El Niño to tighten its grip on SA’s weather

South Africa will still have to deal with the impact of a strengthening El Niño event well into 2016.

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A seasonal climate watch report for October 2015 to February 2016 issued by the SA Weather Service (SAWS), said that much of the country could expect hot and dry conditions for the period.

The report said that the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) was currently in a strong El Niño situation. Most forecast models used by SAWS had also predicted that the El Niño condition would strengthen through the start of the Southern Hemisphere summer, continuing towards late summer and early autumn next year.

“The forecasting system indicates enhanced probabilities for extreme dry conditions for the start of the summer season over the country. Going towards the mid- and late-summer season, the likelihood of the continuation of dry conditions over most parts of the country is high. The likelihood of extreme warmer temperatures over most of South Africa is high as well,” said SAWS.

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It also said that the combination of these conditions “may promote a regional or localised drought”.

This was bad news for SA farmers, many of who were already suffering due to the effects of persistent drought conditions in some regions. Included in these were national summer grains yields that were significantly down on the average, sugarcane farmers’ having to replant their crops more than once, and livestock farmers having to cut down animal numbers to nucleus breeding herds.