South Africa's 2015 Rainfall Lowest on Record Due to El Nino

  • Rains 34% below annual average since 1904, hurting crops
  • Precipitation has been below average for four straight years

South Africa’s rainfall last year was the lowest since records began in 1904 as the El Nino weather pattern caused dry conditions across the region.

Precipitation was 403 millimeters (15.9 inches) in 2015, 34 percent below the 112-year average of 608 millimeters, the Pretoria-based South African Weather Service said in an e-mailed statement Thursday, updating data published yesterday. It was the fourth consecutive year of below-average rainfall, the longest streak since the 1940s.

The country is in the grip of a drought caused by El Nino, resulting in dry conditions in the whole sub-Saharan region. Cities including Johannesburg, the nation’s biggest, have recorded record-high temperatures. The low rainfall that has decimated harvests in South Africa, with farmers expected to produce the smallest corn crop since 1995.

Local futures for yellow corn, a base for animal feed, climbed for a fourth day to the highest since at least 1996 in Johannesburg on concern that recent rainfall won’t be enough to reverse the damage caused by the drought.

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