The monsoon rains have begun!

May 19, 2014

Monsoon Rains in Sierra Leone

A weather pattern known as the West Africa Monsoon results from the annual oscillation of the planet, which causes a distinct shift in the direction of the wind twice a year in Sierra Leone and neighboring countries. Every May, that shift begins to deliver moist air from the Atlantic to the region, a pattern that will last until mid-October, when the process reverses, and a six-month period of long stretches without rain begins. During the rainy season, rainfall amounts generally total 88 inches over six months. By comparison, the average total annual rainfall in the eastern United States is 34 inches.

While the commencing of rains brings welcome irrigation assistance to farmers, too much rain at once can cause flooding, interruption of the planting cycle and the washing away of farmlands. Adding to the predictable challenges of a widely swinging annual weather system, Sierra Leonean farmers are coping with new and unexpected weather, just as farmers around the globe have. The difference is that a failed crop in Sierra Leone more quickly results in starvation than it does in developed nations.