Met Dept warns of heavy rains, strong winds

Localised heavy rains and strong winds are expected countrywide until Saturday, with Midlands, all Mashonaland provinces and Harare Metropolitan expected to have downpours exceeding 50mm.

The latest spell of rains started yesterday with Mashonaland West, Harare, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Masvingo provinces receiving rains.

In Harare, rains were experienced in the western suburbs, in Cold Comfort, parts of Westlea, Warren Park, Dzivaresekwa, Kuwadzana, Madokero, Tynwald and Glen View.

The highest measured falls were at Bulawayo Goetz Observatory 31mm, Binga 21mm, Lupane 15mm, Victoria Falls 14mm, Kariba 13mm and J.M. Nkomo International Airport 10mm.

In a notice yesterday, the Meteorological Services Department warned of thunder and lightning accompanied by hailstorms and strong, damaging winds across the country.

All areas were expected to receive localised rainfall of 50mm or more in 24 hours, and the department warned that flooding was probable in low lying areas such as Muzarabani and the Save and Zambezi Valleys.

“The much-anticipated cloud band has fallen into Zimbabwe and the western half of the country recorded some significant falls,” said the statement.

An earlier statement on Friday said a cloud system was expected to enter Zimbabwe from the southwest beginning yesterday, resulting in widespread rainfall throughout the week, with the possibility of rainfall in excess of 50mm in 24 hours in some places.

The Met Department urged the public to monitor weather updates and avoid open fields, hilltops, tall trees and water bodies.

The public has also been advised to avoid crossing rivers in flood, swollen streams, areas where flash flooding has occurred or where flowing water is above ankle height.

A 30cm depth of flowing water can sweep away large vehicles, hence the need for drivers to refrain from crossing rivers with that amount of water flowing over bridges or fords.

Instead, drivers are encouraged to wait for the water to subside before attempting to cross, even though flooding is caused by heavy rains that occurred elsewhere.

When thunder roars, people are recommended to stay indoors and stay there for at least 30 minutes after the thunderstorm has ended to reduce chances of being struck by lightning.

There was a persistent dry spell that affected the country during last month and the first half of this month and most farmers were fearing the worst as crops they had planted were showing signs of moisture stress.

When the rains finally did set in, Permanent Secretary for Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Professor Obert Jiri advised farmers to intensify planting and take advantage of the rains.

He encouraged farmers to plant short season varieties, adding that the recent rains were ideal for germination of crops.

“Farmers should intensify and scale up planting for the next two weeks. We have been receiving meaningful rains over the past three days and we want to urge farmers to take advantage and finish planting,” he said.

Tobacco Farmers’ Union Trust president Mr Victor Mariranyika yesterday said it was a hive of activity in most farming areas.

“Farmers have taken advantage of the recent rains, which are quite substantial in a number of areas,” he said.

“Those who had not planted are now planting while others who had poor germination are replanting. Some are planting appropriate crops such as cowpeas, sugar beans and short-season varieties of other crops.”

An agricultural expert and Agricultural Rural Development Authority board chairman Mr Ivan Craig said climate change vagaries had prompted the need for farmers to adopt climate-smart crops that help the effects of climate change.

Weather experts have forecasted normal-to-below normal rainfall for most parts of the country except the greater part of Matabeleland North, parts of Bulawayo Metropolitan, parts of Midlands and parts of Mashonaland West, which have increased chances of below normal-to-normal rainfall.

Low rains have been caused by the El Nino phenomenon.

Herald

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