Temperatures in major towns in Kenya are some of the highest recorded in history, increasing the risk of violent winds and forest fires, the weatherman has said.
Lodwar in Turkana County is currently the hottest place in the country, with temperatures peaking at 40°C followed by Wajir at 39.2°.
In what meteorologists have described as the “hottest season” in recent years, some stations in Nairobi recorded temperatures as high as 34°C while towns not typically known for being hot such as Kakamega and Nakuru recorded 34° and 31°C respectively.
Kitale, Mombasa and Kisumu also recorded temperatures of above 30°C.
Kenya Meteorological Services Deputy Director Peter Ambenje said the high temperatures were a result of lack of cloud cover and delayed rains.
“The rains have not come as predicted, so all the radiation that is normally filtered out by the clouds is hitting the earth,” he said.
If the situation does not change soon, the heat could have disastrous consequences.
“Just recently, dust devils were sighted in Narok County. These could harm children’s eyes. The winds resulting from changes in air density could also lead to wild fires,” said Mr Ambenje.
The department website also predicts strong winds in northern Kenya, with speeds of up to 25 knots.
Mr Ambenje also said Kenyans would have to wait longer than expected for relief, because the March rains will be delayed.
In February, he had said counties in western, Nyanza, central and South Rift were likely to receive near normal or good rainfall by the second week of March.
But as of yesterday, not a single drop had fallen.
Mr Ambenje said the Meteorological Department would today release an advisory on the weather so that people can prepare for the extended heat and dryness.
The weatherman had also predicted that Nairobi, central Kenya, Embu, Meru and Machakos would receive near normal rain while most counties in North Rift, Coast and Northeastern would have depressed rainfall.
Experts have painted a similarly grim picture for Africa after they predicted yesterday that the continent will experience severe food scarcity due to climate change.
Scientists and policy makers who are in Nairobi for a three-day conference said failing to pass the required policies to shield the continent from the effects of a warmer climate would result in a 50 per cent decline in crop yields by 2020, a 40-90 per cent reduction in pasture and new or more virulent diseases and pests.
Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Agriculture Principal Secretary Cecily Kariuki said Kenya was feeling the effects of the delayed rains and 1.6 million people were on food aid.
She, however, said there were enough maize stocks. “We have 600,000 bags of maize in reserves. Already, 500,000 bags have been distributed to the 23 worst affected areas,” she said.