Devastating Spring Floods Drench Kenya

Intense storms in Turkana County caused floods that killed three and displaced over 1,000 on 10 March 2016. The storm cells brought heavy rains that overflowed the Turkwel and Kawalase Rivers, resulting in heavy damage in the villages of Napetet, Soweto, Kalifonia and Nakerekei.

One of the worst affected areas was Lodwar Town, which sits between the two rivers (see map below.) The floods continued until 13 March.


Earth Networks Total Lightning Network detected over 500 lightning strikes during the storm that resulted in these floods.

Just a few weeks later on 1 April 2016, another flood washed through Kenya due to strong overnight thunderstorms consisting of heavy rain. The Dagoretti Meteorological station in Nairobi recorded 96mm of rain in a 6-hour period. This rain caused the Mgbagathi River to flood, as shown below.

The thunderstorms battered the regions of Southern Kenya and Eastern Uganda with over 38,000 lightning strikes in a 12-hour period. The below video powered by Earth Networks Total Lightning Network shows both the cloud-to-ground (yellow) and in-cloud (purple) lightning strikes.


Earth networks also sent out a dozen or so Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts (DTAs) in the region in Eastern Kenya and Western Uganda.

DTA flooding

Earth Networks’ DTAs provide the most advanced alerting to severe weather by utilizing our Total Lightning Network. Total Lightning detection makes it possible to deliver DTAs 50% faster, on average, than other alerts for potential dangerous conditions, including high rain totals like the 96mm that flooded the capital of Nairobi in this case.

flood south c
Photo: Kenya Traffic

Heavy rains and flooding on 29 April 2016 caused landslides and took the lives of 14 Nairobi people according to the Kenyan Police. The below video powered by Earth Networks Total Lightning Network shows the severity of the storm with over 35,000 lightning strikes in a 12-hour period leading up to deaths in Eastern Kenya. The high frequency of purple in-cloud lightning strikes detected is vital for helping predict and prepare for monsoons and other heavy rainfall situations like this one.

A building collapse was responsible for 10 of the reported deaths attributed to the stormy weather.  The Kenyan Red Cross rescued 121 people by Saturday morning but it was unclear how many additional people were trapped in the ruble. Rescuers found a woman alive six days after the building collapsed and eventually called off the search on 9 May.

collpased building

The 7-story building shook violently in the rain before collapsing, according to eye-witness accounts. Government officials reported that the building, which was located near the edge of a river, did not have planning permission and the owner of the building was arrested following the collapse. The other four deaths caused by this heavy rain occurred in a similar situation when a wall collapsed. In addition to the lives lost, the flooding negatively affected more than 800 homes.