A woman walks on ice following a hallstorm in Laikipia on Tuesday. (Photo: Courtesy)
A white substance in Laikipia County caused a stir on social media, with many terming it ‘snow’ and marvelling at the odds of that happening in the tropics.
However, the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) Wednesday dismissed the possibility of snow falling in Kenya, saying what was experienced in Nyahururu was ‘intense hailstones’.
“We cannot have snow in Kenya because of how close we are to the Equator. It was hailstones that fell with such intensity that theystayed long on the ground,” said Peter Ambeje, the chief executive officer at KMD.
Ayub Shaka, an assistant director at KMD, said the convergence of the Western and Eastern winds led to the hailstorm.
When the Western winds, which are moist and light, are pushed up by the heavier Eastern winds, the result is either rain or hailstorm, he said.
He added that what happened in Nyahururu has happened before. He said European explorers wrote about ‘heavy sheets of ice’ when they were traversing Nyahururu. Three years ago, Nyahururu experienced a hailstorm that disrupted activities in the area.
Poor weather eats into Sasini profit
Thousands of farmers in the county are counting their losses after the hailstones destroyed crops during a heavy downpour on Tuesday night.
Farmers at Gatundia and Rumuruti were dumbfounded in the wake of the two-hour storm that left their farms covered in thick layers of hailstones.
Jane Cherop lost five acres of maize near Gatundia. Mrs Cherop had borrowed money from a Nyahururu bank to invest in the farm.
“I thought that my dream had come true as I would now have a bumper harvest after the rains. All this has now turned into a real nightmare. I invested over Sh50,000 in the farm but all this is now lost,” she lamented.
Cherop said it took more than five hours for the hailstones to melt. She added that she would have to till the land afresh.
Another farmer, Justus Kariuki, said he lost more than Sh30,000 in the hailstorm that was estimated to have destroyed 200 acres of crop.
County officials from the Agriculture Ministry Wednesday visited the area to assess the damage.
The storm set the internet abuzz, with many claiming it could be as a result of climate change, with speculation that Kenya might experience more such incidents.
The Meteorological Department said July is generally a cold month and that temperatures have been getting lower due to seasonal changes.