Seasonal Variability of Rainfall and Thunderstorm Patterns in Kenya

Authors

  • Mary Kurgat

    Department of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, 00100-30197, Kenya

  • Wilson Gitau

    Department of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, 00100-30197, Kenya

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.30564/jasr.v7i1.6144
Received: 11 December 2023 | Revised: 15 January 2024 | Accepted: 28 January 2024 | Published Online: 29 January 2024

Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of spatial and temporal variation of rainfall and thunderstorm occurrence over Kenya from January 1987 to December 2017. The meteorological data used were obtained from the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) for the same period. This included the monthly thunderstorm occurrences and rainfall amounts of 26 synoptic stations across the country. The characteristics of monthly, seasonal and annual frequency results were presented on spatial maps while Time series graphs were used to display the pattern for annual cycle, seasonal variations and the inter-annual variability of rainfall amounts and thunderstorm occurrences. A well-known non-parametric statistical method Mann Kendall (MK) trend test was used to determine and compare the statistical significance of the trends. Thunderstorm frequencies over the Eastern, Central and Coast regions of the country showed a bimodal pattern with high frequencies coinciding with March-April-May (MAM) and October-November-December (OND) rainy seasons. Very few thunderstorm days were detected over June-July-August (JJA) season. The areas to the western part of the country, near Lake Victoria, had the highest thunderstorm frequencies in the country over the three seasons: MAM, JJAS and OND. The annual frequency showed a quasi-unimodal pattern. These places near Lake Victoria showed significantly increasing thunderstorm trends during the MAM and OND seasons irrespective of the rainfall trends. This shows the effects of Lake Victoria over these areas, and it acts as a continuous source of moisture for thunderstorm formation. However, most stations across the country showed a reducing trend of thunderstorm frequency during MAM and JJA seasons. The importance of these findings is that they could support various policy makers, and users of climate information, especially in the agriculture and aviation industries.

Keywords:

Rainfall, Thunderstorm, Lake Victoria, Kenya, Mann Kendall

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How to Cite

Kurgat, M., & Gitau, W. (2024). Seasonal Variability of Rainfall and Thunderstorm Patterns in Kenya. Journal of Atmospheric Science Research, 7(1), 106–117. https://doi.org/10.30564/jasr.v7i1.6144

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