This study focused on the customization of the fourth generation International Center for Theoretical Physics Regional Climate Model version 4.4 and its ability to reproduce the mean climate and most dominant modes of variability over East Africa. The simulations were performed at a spatial resolution of 25 km for the period 1998–2013. The model was driven by ERA-Interim reanalysis. The customization focus was on cumulus and microphysics schemes during the Short Rains for the year 2000. The best physics combinations were then utilized for the validation studies. The East Africa region and Lake Victoria Basin region are adapted to carry out empirical orthogonal function analysis, during the Short and Long Rains. Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission data was utilized in the validation of the model. The first mode of variability from the model and observational data during the Short Rains was associated with the warming of the Pacific Ocean and the sea surface temperature gradients over the Indian Ocean. During the Long rains, the inter-annual rainfall variability over the Lake Victoria region was associated with the sea surface temperature anomaly over the Indian Ocean and for the East Africa region the associations were weak. The drivers during the Long Rains over East Africa region were then further investigated by splitting the season to the March–April and May periods. The March–April period was positively correlated to the West Pacific and Indian Ocean dipole index, while May was associated with the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation. In conclusion, although the model can reproduce the dominant modes of variability as in the observational data sets during the Short Rains, skill was lower during the Long Rains.
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