African news updates – BBC News – Ghana News Portal

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Heavy
flooding caused by torrential rains has displaced hundreds of thousands of
people and left more than 180 dead across Africa in October.

We asked
the meteorological experts at BBC Weather to help us understand the situation.

Copyright: BBC

Just how much rain has fallen?

It’s difficult to give precise figures for the whole continent. Meteorological data from African countries is often not as easily available as for other global regions.

There is no reliable rainfall data from Somalia for example, where some of the worst impacts of the flooding have been reported.

But figures are available for Kenya, which show that there have been some very high levels of rainfall. On 16 October, the port city of Mombasa recorded more than 100mm – that’s around the monthly average in one day.

What’s behind the floods?

October is within the second rainy season for much of central Africa – in many of the East African countries this season generally lasts until December.

Several different climate patterns in the area have a big influence on seasonal rainfall in the region.

One of those which can cause heavier rains is a weather phenomenon known as a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which occurs when the western part of the Indian Ocean becomes significantly warmer than the eastern part.

Whether this is directly attributable to the recent flooding is uncertain but it increases the risk of excess rainfall.

There are other climate patterns, including El Niño, that could be playing a role as well.

Is climate change to blame?

It’s always difficult to attribute specific, localised rainfall to climate change, but we can talk about trends. In a warmer world, we would expect more moisture in the atmosphere and therefore could expect rainfall events to be more extreme.