Source: Met Dept warns of heavy rains | The Herald February 9, 2018
Elita Chikwati and Mellisa Mutasa
The Meteorological Services Department has warned of more heavy rains in excess of 50 millimetres in 24 hours that may be accompanied by strong winds, lightning, hail and flash flooding in some areas, mainly along and north of the central watershed and in the Eastern Highlands.
The rains were expected from yesterday and will continue until next week. In a statement, the MSD said uprooting of trees and damage to infrastructure was a possibility due to the intensity of the rains.
“Following the alert that the Meteorological Services Department issued on February 1, 2018, more heavy rain is forecast from Thursday February 8 to Monday February 12 and it is, therefore, necessary to extend this warning to Tuesday February 13,” said the department.
“The department by way of this Press release is alerting responsible authorities such as the Department of Civil Protection, local authorities, the police and power utilities to be on alert for the duration of the period. The department will continue monitoring the weather conditions. Further alerts and advisories will be issued as and when the need arises.”
The department has been recording high rainfall figures from its stations and other volunteer stations across the country since Saturday.
High rainfall was recorded in Crowborough 64mm on Sunday, Concession 62mm Monday, 78mm in Wedza, 95mm in Mutoko, Mhondoro 61mm, Masvingo 61mm, Honde Valley 184mm and Chisumbanje 81mm.
“It should be borne in mind that this precipitation does not portray the whole picture of the amounts received countrywide,” said the department.
The condition of crops and livestock countrywide has improved due to the recent rains, with water levels in a number of dams across the country having also started rising following the current wet spell.
According to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority dam levels update issued on Monday, the national dam level average had risen to 67,6 percent marking a 1,14 percent increase from last week. Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement deputy minister Davis Marapira confirmed that the crop condition had improved in most parts of the country.
“Most rivers got a boost from the current rainfall. Our underground water has also improved. The rains also benefited pastures for livestock, especially in region 3, 4 and 5,” he said.
“Crops in the vegetative stage will improve because of the current rains. We encourage farmers to start top dressing their crops, but should be careful not to apply when the soils are too wet as this will lead to leaching.”
Zimbabwe Farmer’s Union executive director Mr Paul Zakariya said the rains had contributed to a slight improvement in crops.
“We are receiving reports countrywide on crop improvement,” he said. “There is a bit of change on the crop situation due to the rains. We have a team carrying out crop assessment on the ground. Farmers almost lost out this season, but we hope that the rains will bring better yields.”
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said the crop condition was generally good. Agriculture expert, Mr Ivan Craig said the rains were significant.
“The prolonged dry spell led to the wilting of crops, but not all crops had reached the permanent wilting stage,” he said.