After successive El Nino induced droughts in recent years, Zimbabweans are bracing for another turbulent 2020/21 agricultural season with the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) warning of impending violent and destructive thunderstorms to come.

In the meantime, the MSD has said light rains are expected in the country until Friday, after most parts of the country received light rains this week including hailstorms in areas such as Matopos in Matobo district, Matabeleland South Province.

MSD head of forecasting Mr James Ngoma said the rains would not exceed 50 millimetres.

“We are expecting isolated showers across most of the country until Friday. We will then have a slight break over the weekend and another downpour in the coming week. The downpours are expected to be of at least 50 millimetres (mm) in localised areas. This is a moderate pour because when we speak of heavy downpours it exceeds 50mm,” said MSD Head of Forecasting, James Ngoma.

“The rains are not really meaningful but the biggest disadvantage is that the rains might bring a lot of destructive elements such as hail, lightning and strong winds.”

According to Ngoma, members of the public should avoid being outdoors during the rains especially when there is lightning.

Two people were struck by lightning in Gokwe last month.

“We advise members of the public to be indoors when its raining. If you are doing your land preparations it’s not safe to be in the fields when there is lightning. The potential of lightning strikes is very high when you are in the fields.

The easiest way to note whether you are in a safe proximity of lightning storm, is that when you see lightning and can’t count to 30 before you hear the thunder then you know that you are not safe,” he said.

“In terms of strong winds, make sure that your roofing is secure and if there is any chance of lightning and you have no shelter its always not advisable to hide under a tree. You should instead crouch on the ground as low as possible.”

Ngoma urged farmers to follow updates from Agritex officers on the step to follow as they prepare for the 2020/21 farming season.
MSD among other weather experts have projected normal to above normal rainfalls in the 2020/2021 rainy season.

The projections have excited agriculturalists as they hope it would spur better yields in the coming cropping season as the country has received successive poor rainfalls in the past two seasons resulting in drought.

In view of the hazards that come with the projected heavy rains, Cabinet last month approved a US$32 million budget to capacitate the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) in dealing with rain related disasters in the 2020/21 rainy season.

state media