Met Dept issues heavy rains alert

HEAVY rains are expected across much of the country for the next seven days from today to Wednesday next week, the Meteorological Services Department forecasts, as the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone combines with a cloud band moving in from the west.

Downpours exceeding 50mm are expected along the main watershed. 

In the West this sees such rain in Bulawayo, plus Matobo, Umzingwane, Insiza, and parts of Mangwe in Matabeleland South and Umguza and Bubi in Matabeleland North. 

Downpours above 50mm are expected in Zvishavane, Shurugwi, Kwekwe, Kadoma, Chirumhanzu and Mberengwa in Midlands and Chivi, and Gutu in Masvingo.

In the north, the 50mm downpours are likely in Harare Metropolitan, Chegutu, Zvimba, Bindura, Shamva, and Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe in Mashonaland West and Chikomba, Seke, Wedza, Marondera, Murehwa and Mutoko in Mashonaland East.

Other areas, although expected to receive heavy rains, will record below 50mm.

The Met Department warned that the localised heavy rains will be characterised by lightning and hail storms in some areas, and so warned of flash floods, insecure roofs being blown off, and trees falling in strong winds.

The heavy rainfall is caused by the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone combining with a cloud band coming from the western parts of the country.

“The Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), which has been active over the northern parts of the country is expected to combine with a cloud band, which is moving from the west to the east covering the whole country.

“As a result, the combined effect of the two should result in precipitation amounts over 50mm in areas along the main watershed,” said the forecast.

People should stay indoors during thunderstorms unless there is an emergency and warned motorists and travellers to avoid crossing rivers in flood. 

This includes avoiding water above the ankle level while motorists should not cross rivers exceeding 30 centimetres as they can be washed away.

While rains come with possibilities of dangers farmers, especially in Matabeleland region, are hopeful for more rains as some of the crops were now showing signs of moisture stress while dams are yet to record significant inflows.

On Monday, the Government launched a US$400 000 cloud-seeding programme to induce more rains as the country is in the middle of an El Nino weather season characterised by prolonged dry spells.

Bulawayo is desperate for rains as its dam water levels have reduced fallen to 44 percent with Umzingwane Dam being 95 percent empty. To conserve water, the council has introduced a 120-weekly water-shedding programme.

The rains are not just giving hope to farmers, but animal conservationists as elephants were dying at the Hwange National Park.

In an interview, yesterday, Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo said since August 160 elephants had died at the national park.

He said the rains received so far had brought relief to animals, as some of them were dying due to long distances walking in search of water.

“Between August and December, we lost 160 elephants. Most of these animals were weak, old and young and could not cope with the long distances that animals had to travel in search for water. But since we started receiving the rains the situation has normalised,” said Mr Farawo.

ZimParks was investigating a suspected case of poisoning of six elephants in Lupane, Matabeleland North.

“We suspect that they were poisoned. We found them in a single area in a decomposed state. They had their tusks removed. So, we are still conducting investigations on what could have happened,” said Mr Farawo.


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