THE Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has warned that the country may this week be hit by violent thunderstorms in various provinces which could destroy the winter wheat crop, particularly in the south.
In a statement at the weekend, the MSD said the storms, characterised by hail and light rains, will be a result of cool moisture developing from Botswana and South Africa. These do not, however, signify the commencement of the 2020/21 cropping season.
“A weak cloud band began infiltrating the western borders of the country from Botswana into both Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South provinces.
“At the same time, relatively cool and moist winds are beginning to establish. As such, cloudy, windy and showery conditions are expected on Sunday evening, 30 August into 31 August in Matabeleland South, Masvingo, southern parts of Midlands, Manicaland and Bulawayo Metropolitan into the southern areas of Matabeleland North.
“The showers may be violent coupled with lightning, hail and strong winds. Therefore, the light rain and drizzle should steadily ease off with chilly and cloudy conditions over Matabeleland South, Masvingo, southern parts of the Midlands, Manicaland on Tuesday.
“This system is short-lived and may cause very adverse effects on winter wheat and other crops in the fields,” reads the MSD statement.
The MSD also warned farmers against harvesting their crops during the rains as they risk being struck by lightning.
This comes as the latest The GEO Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative (GEOGLAM) global outlook report released a fortnight ago says Zimbabwe could have higher than average rainfall in the coming 2020-2021 cropping season owing to the possibility of a La Niña.
La Niñas are normally associated with wet conditions, heightened risk of cyclones as well as cool daytime temperatures for the entire southern Africa sub-continent,
According to the GEOGLAM forecast, Southern Africa may receive more rainfall compared to the 2019-2020 farming season.
“El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) neutral conditions are likely to continue through summer 2020 ENSO and Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) conditions are currently neutral and are expected to remain neutral through the northern hemisphere summer,” read part of the report.
“However, there is an elevated chance of La Niña or La Niña-like climate arising by October. Such conditions are associated with the combined influence of abnormally cool equatorial East Pacific sea surface waters and abnormally warm sea surface waters in the western Pacific.
“La Niña or La Niña-like conditions during October-December typically reduce rainfall in East Africa, Central Southwest Asia, southern Brazil and central Argentina and increase rainfall in Southern Africa, Australia, and eastern Brazil.”