2021 looks like its going to be very windy in Watamu, Kenya
Is it going to be windy this Kaskazi season (December-March)? It’s the question we are all asking ourselves. Just like every kitesurfing destination there are years where the conditions are amazing there are also seasons where the wind can let you down. Although this Kuzi season (June-Sept) was one of the best we can remember, the 2020 Kaskazi season was dissapointing to say the least. It was probably the worst season for wind we can remeber in terms of windy days on the water.
Why was 2020 Kaskazi so bad? More importantly why does 2021 look like its going to be windy in Watamu, Kenya. The answer is the Indian Ocean Dipole. What is that I hear you ask, well trusty Wikipedia can give us a detailed description:
The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) involves an aperiodic oscillation of sea-surface temperatures (SST), between “positive”, “neutral” and “negative” phases. A positive phase sees greater-than-average sea-surface temperatures and greater precipitation in the western Indian Ocean region,[dubious – discuss] with a corresponding cooling of waters in the eastern Indian Ocean—which tends to cause droughts in adjacent land areas of Indonesia and Australia. The negative phase of the IOD brings about the opposite conditions, with warmer water and greater precipitation in the eastern Indian Ocean, and cooler and drier conditions in the west.
How does this effect the wind in a positive effect for 2021?
The Kaskazi trade wind blows from the North, which is actually cross off shore for most of the beaches in Kenya. The reason why the conditions for kitesurfing are better each day from around 11am onwards from December – March is the wind we are actually riding on is a thermal wind or sea breeze.
Current models indicate that the IOD will be sitting in a Negative State (Yay!!!) from the end of the year and early next year. This results in the sea surfurace water tempretures being cooler and therefore the diffrence between the land and seas tempratures during the day is much bigger. As a consequnce of this there is much stronger sea breeze conditions. At the very least it will sit in a neutral position, which is also positive for the wind conditions in Watamu, Kenya for the Kaskazi season 2021.
During the 2020 Kaskazi season the IOD was sitting in a positive state; so warmer ocean surface tempratures which led to light sea breezes. Luckily for us a positive IOD is actually very rare and has only happened twice in the last 9 years. It also only affects the wind during the Kaskazi season. This is due to the Kuzi season not being a thermal wind but purley a trade wind, which means we can always rely on them to bring us consistently strong winds from June – September.