The heavy rains and deadly floods that have hit Kenya since March are among the worst the country has  seen in recent years. 

At least 228 people have died as a result of the floods and at least 72 people are missing according to  the latest official figures.

In a tragic incident, at least 48 people died after water from a blocked tunnel  under a railway line in Southwest Kenya caused massive flooding.

This is the second highest death toll in  a week after Mahi Mahiu which killed at least 58 people. The rain has displaced more than 190,000 people and damaged roads and other infrastructure. 

Destructive rainfall is caused by a variety of factors, including the country’s seasonal climate, human induced climate change and natural factors and the combination of these factors caused deadly flood. 

What is the “long rainy season” in Kenya? 

Kenya and other parts of East Africa experience two main rainy seasons: the “long rain” season from  March to May and the “short rain” season from October to December. 

The “long rainy” season is when most of the country’s average rainfall occurs each year and it’s often  characterized by heavy rains that sometimes last until June. 

In its forecast for this year’s “long rainy” season, the Kenya Meteorological Department has predicted  that heavy rains will be absent in most parts of the country, with occasional heavy rains. He also warned  of severe flooding, erosion, mudslides and other catastrophes. 

Last year’s “light rain” season was characterized by heavy rains in many parts of the country, especially  in November. Lamu, Mombasa and Garissa counties experienced almost three times the longest rainfall,  according to the meteorological department. 

Why is it raining so hard this season? 

The frequency, pattern and intensity of rainfall in Kenya is influenced by natural weather patterns such  as the Indian Ocean Dipole. 

The Indian Ocean Dipole is a change in ocean currents that causes the western part of the Indian Ocean  to be warmer than average and cooler than average to the eastern part of the Indian Ocean. It has  positive, neutral and negative sides. 

A favorable system causes heavy rains in areas West of the Indian Ocean, such as Kenya, and droughts in  Indonesia and Australia.

Although many people associate the current floods with the El Nino weather  phenomenon, research shows that this weather event has little effect on the rainfall in East Africa  during the “long rains” season, said Joyce Kimutai, a research fellow at Imperial College. London. 

El Nino is a warming of the oceans across the Pacific Ocean, which changes the direction of tropical  storms and can cause heavy rains in some parts of the world and droughts in others. But in Kenya’s case,  the real Indian Ocean dipole and climate change could explain the continued heavy rainfall, he said. 

Warming oceans caused by warm air increase the atmosphere, and the air holding more water can  produce more rain.

In a study conducted in December last year, a group of scientists investigating  whether climate change plays a role in extreme weather, found that the first human-caused climate  changes the last “little rain” age. “In Kenya and other parts of East Africa it is almost double.

When will the “long rain” end?  

Long-term weather forecasting in Kenya has become difficult in recent years as the onset and duration  of the dry and wet seasons are increasingly variable. 

The Kenya Meteorological Department expects the “long rainy season” to continue until June. In its  latest seven-day weather forecast, released on Monday, the department said it expects rain to continue  in various parts of the country, with heavy rain likely to fall in six areas, and floods in low-lying areas,  slopes, lowlands and the slopes of the mountains.