Rainfall forecast by November
AN UPDATE on the 2018/2019 rainy season, where normal to below-normal rains are forecast, is expected to be available by early next month. This will help project how the summer cropping season might pan out. Experts say Southern Africa could be plagued by the El Niño weather phenomenon, which will induce below-normal rains.
Zimbabwe’s Meteorological Service Department recently indicated that it is difficult to either accurately forecast rainfall distribution beyond 14 days or to predict how rainfall will be distributed throughout the season in advance.
“The current projections of the season are for a normal with a bias to below-normal rainfall season. An update to this will, however, be available after the 31st of October 2018.
“It should be noted, however, that the rainfall distribution cannot be forecast with much accuracy beyond 14 days. Hence, it is very difficult to forecast how the rainfall will be distributed throughout the season in advance,” the MSD said in a statement to The Sunday Mail.
The official summer rainfall season for rain-fed agricultural purposes usually span for a six-month period from the beginning of October to April.
According to MSD, the start of the rainy season is often defined as “any day after the 1st of October that a place receives 20mm or more in one or two days, provided there is no dry spell of 10 or more in the next 30 days”.
In Matabeleland, Masvingo, Midlands and southern areas of Manicaland, the season usually starts in October.
In Mashonaland and northern Manicaland, the season usually begins mid-November.
The MSD says based on the current record and if the current projections hold, south-western areas such as Matabeleland are likely to have near record-breaking temperatures in November.
Traditionally, highest temperatures in Zimbabwe are recorded in low-altitude areas like Beitbridge to the south and Kanyemba to the extreme north.
“It is, therefore, important for farmers and other decision-makers to take more notice of the seasonal weather outlooks as well as regular weekly updates from the Meteorological Services Department for them to mainstream weather information into their planning and decision-making processes,” said the MSD.