The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
THE Meteorological Services Department (MSD) says the wet spell experienced throughout the country does not signal the start of the summer cropping season and farmers should not plant as yet, as they risk losing their crops.
MSD Deputy Director Public Weather Forecasting and Principal Meteorologist, Mrs Linia Mashawi-Gopo said the rains that fell last week in the country were considered to be unevenly distributed, urging farmers to take caution.
“Some farmers may want to plant with these first rains, however, the encouragement is that they liase with their Agritex officers for the best advice; as they may need irrigation support or depending on the amount of moisture received in that area, the type of soils and the rainfall expected in the coming 14 days. They may be guided accordingly to make the best decision for their specific area,” she said.
Mrs Mashawi-Gopo said the rainy season has not officially started despite the rains experienced last week.
“Though the summer season officially begins on the 1st of October of each year, from this time onwards rainfall can occur anytime in Zimbabwe. However, effective rainfall is usually received around mid-November for most areas as the rainfall systems will be more organised. So, these rains that have been received do not signify the start of the season as yet,” she said.
The principal meteorologist said countrywide widespread rainfall was received from 5 October 2020 until Thursday 8 October 2020 but was insignificant for any sound farming practices.
“Though the rainfall covered the bulk of the country, the spatial distribution was generally poor; it was not uniformly distributed. The highest rainfall of 36mm was recorded on the 6th of October 2020 in Gweru and Plumtree with most of the meteorological stations recording rainfall below 10mm accumulation over the four-day period. During the month of October rain bearing systems will not be as organised, hence the poor distribution of the rainfall in space and in time,” she said.
Bulawayo Metropolitan Province received 17mm of rain which was accompanied by thunderstorms that uprooted trees in some areas of the city.
“On the other hand, the storms during the month of October tend to be very violent (accompanied with lightning, hail and strong winds) due to the high daytime temperatures. The advice for the general public is when thunder roars everyone should desist from outdoor activities and never take shelter under trees during a storm. Construction of strong structures is encouraged as this reduces structural failure or blowing of roof tops due to strong winds,” said Mrs Mashawi-Gopo.
She also said all homesteads must have lightning conductors to protect them from being struck while motorists were encouraged never to park cars under trees as strong winds could uproot trees and damage vehicles. The public has also been advised to cut down old trees near houses as they tend to fall on houses and cause damage while crossing flooded rivers has been heavily condemned as people and vehicles may be swept away.
Mrs Mashawi-Gopo said as from today, a high-pressure system off the south east coast of South Africa should be stirring cool and moist south easterlies into the country starting with areas to the south of the main watershed.
“Areas along and to the north of the main watershed should experience some isolated thunderstorm activity due to convergence. Patchy drizzle, cloudy and windy conditions are expected over the southern and eastern parts of Zimbabwe, otherwise the remaining parts of the country are likely to be windy from time to time with thunderstorms which may be violent (strong winds, hail and lightning) in places,” she said.
Mrs Mashawi-Gopo gave the weather forecast for the coming week saying localised heavy downpours are highly likely to occur.
“From Monday 12 October 2020 the cool and moist south easterlies should be extending northwards causing cloudy and windy conditions over most parts of the country, patchy drizzle should persist over the southern and eastern parts of Zimbabwe and isolated thunder showers in areas along and to the north of the main watershed. Daytime temperatures are expected to be significantly subdued and stable atmospheric conditions are anticipated in most parts of the country on Monday. From Tuesday onwards a relatively dry atmosphere should be predominant countrywide with warm to hot daytime conditions and no rain,” she said.— @NyembeziMu