Meteorological agency warns travelers on Lake Victoria of thunderstorm

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By Franklin Draku

A severe thunderstorm was sighted over Lake Victoria by meteorological experts, signaling possible dangers to travelers on the lake.

Uganda’s National Meteorological Authority has warned those planning to travel to different islands in the lake to postpone their trip by more than an hour as the storm clears.

Currently, the region is experiencing heavy showers, which are expected to last several hours before clearing.

“The current radar image shows a thunderstorm line over the lake, from Masaka to Ssembabule. These are likely to last over an hour. Postpone all trips to the lake, especially to the islands of Kalangala, Ssese, Bukakata and Kasensero, ”a weather update from the authority reads.

The authority last week warned Ugandans of possible strong winds, hailstorms, lightning and thunderstorms as the rainy season sets in across the country.

Dr Festus Luboyera, executive director of Uganda’s National Meteorological Authority at the time, said the onset of the seasonal rains is expected to be characterized by severe isolated lightning, thunder and hailstorms.

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Dr Luboyera said the main physical conditions that could influence the three-month rainfall forecast for Uganda include current and evolving sea surface temperature anomalies over global oceans.

He underlined the increased likelihood of a neutral southern oscillation of El Niño and an Indian Ocean dipole during the months of March, April and May; intra-seasonal variations such as the influence of a weaker passage on active Madden Julian oscillations which are most prominent in the region and the influence of regional circulation patterns, topographic features and large inland water bodies .

In a separate warning, the authority also warned Ugandans against shelters under trees and open terrain as they are possible targets for lightning during heavy downpours. A number of people have been struck by lightning in the recent past across the country.

“Avoid sheltering under trees and open land to limit lightning during thunderstorms as the rains continue,” the authority said.

In February last year, four mountain gorillas, including a pregnant female, died in Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park after being struck by lightning. All three adult women and one infant male were found with “significant lesions” on their bodies indicating electrocution.

In August of the same year, ten children were killed by lightning in the town of Arua while taking shelter in a hut during a storm. The children were playing soccer when heavy rains forced them to take a break at a nearby thatched-roof structure that was struck by lightning.

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