Good rains ahead as La Niña is predicted

12 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Good rains  ahead as La Niña is predicted

The Sunday Mail

Debra Matabvu and Theseus Shambare

THE upcoming 2024/2025 summer cropping season is likely to experience normal to above-normal rains associated with the La Niña weather phenomenon that is expected to start developing as early as next month, according to latest forecasts.

This phenomenon, which has the opposite effect of El Niño, often results in a warmer-than-usual winter and potentially normal to above-normal rainfall during summer.

According to the Meteorological Services Department (MSD), the La Niña might start developing between June and September.

More rains during the cropping season would bring relief, especially after the recent drought, which prompted the Government to declare a State of Disaster.

A mid-term weather forecast released by the MSD last week states: “Although the El Niño phenomenon observed during the summer did not reach the level of a strong El Niño, there are indications of a transition to La Niña.

“Historically, strong El Niño have been followed by two consecutive seasons of La Niña.

“The intensity of this transition can vary, but it is expected to have a significant impact on weather patterns during the spring and summer seasons.

“The current projections suggest an increased likelihood of La Niña developing by June-August 2024.

“Understanding these weather patterns is important for various sectors and stakeholders to prepare and adapt to potential changes in precipitation, temperature and related impacts.”

La Niña-induced weather is usually associated with high rainfall and warm winters, the opposite of El Niño, which normally comes with low rainfall and cold temperatures.

It generally increases the likelihood of above-average rainfall in certain areas of Southern Africa and can potentially lead to flooding.

It also increases chances of the formation of cyclones in the Mozambique Channel.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, MSD head of forecast Mr James Ngoma said the country will experience La Niña this winter.

“La Niña is predicted for the winter period currently,” he said.

“It might extend into further months, but that is currently up to God.”

He said further modelling will be undertaken to better predict with certainty the forecast for the rest of the year.

However, last week, the United States national weather forecaster — the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Centre — said the El Niño weather pattern will fade out by June and be replaced by the La Niña phenomenon by the second half of the year.

It said there was a 49 percent chance that the La Niña weather pattern may develop during the June to August period, rising to 69 percent in July-September.

In an advisory released on Thursday, the US weather forecaster said: “The forecast team continues to favour the dynamical model guidance, which suggests La Niña could form as early as June-August 2024, with higher confidence of La Niña during the following seasons.

“La Niña generally tends to follow strong El Niño events, which also provides added confidence in the model guidance favouring La Niña.

“In summary, a transition from El Niño to ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation)-neutral is likely in the next month.

“La Niña may develop in June-August (49 percent chance) or July-September (69 percent chance).”

Good news

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Professor Obert Jiri said above-average rainfall will be good for the agriculture sector.

“Yes, the La Niña is an indication of a better rainfall season,” he said.

“We, therefore, must prepare for better production and productivity in the coming season.

“If it finds us with a revamped irrigation and expanded hectarage, it will be a blessing for us.

“Records have it that food production during a La Niña season is excellent in Zimbabwe, although it brings with it some dangers for those in low-lying areas.”

Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) board chairperson Mr Ivan Craig said the forecast was welcome.

“La Niña is good news for farmers, especially after facing the vagaries of the El Niño phenomenon,” he said.

“With all preparations in place and on time, we can retain our breadbasket status, from grain production to livestock.

“You will find that we are going to see vigorous growth of pastures, which actually provides farmers with an opportunity to have enough feed, especially if we do hay baling in time.

“Poverty deaths will be a thing of the past.

“However, more rains increase the prevalence of ticks, and this requires good and timeous preparations for dipping infrastructure and chemicals.”

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Dr Shadreck Makombe said “La Niña is the best”.

“If everything goes according to predictions, we will be happy as farmers,” he said.

“However, weather patterns change without warnings. We pray that the season goes well.

“The scientific forecast has given us hope for a better season and we expect the Government to be ready for rainwater harvesting through dam construction.”

Share This: