In what could augur a fine 2020-2021 agricultural season, scientists have identified early signals of moderate La Nina conditions.
Based on its monsoon mission climate forecast system Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF-24) said Wednesday: “The bulk of SADC is likely to receive normal to above-normal rainfall for most of the period October to December (OND) 2020. The January to March (JFM) 2021 period is expected to have normal to above normal rainfall for the entire region.”
In a La Nina climate pattern, the winds above the Pacific Ocean are much stronger than usual, contributing to increased rainfall and the phenomenon occurs once every few years.
The last time the region experienced a La Nina rainy season was in 2016/2017, the last time Zimbabwe had meaningful rains.
Since then, the country has experienced erratic rains resulting in successive droughts with devastating effects for both humans and livestock.
Meteorological Services Department of Zimbabwe (MSD) also said Wednesday the country would receive between normal and above normal rainfall patterns throughout the entire cropping season.
“Using statistical analysis, other climate prediction schemes and expert interpretation (including personnel from academic institutions), the climate scientists determined likelihoods of above-normal, normal-to-above, normal-to-below and below-normal rainfall for each area i.e. October-November-December (OND), and January-February-March (JFM).
“The climate scientists took into account oceanic (sea surface temperatures) and atmospheric factors that influence our climate over SADC region including the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which is currently in its neutral phase.
“The ENSO is projected to shift into the La Niña phase during the forecast period,” the MSD said.
The seasonal rainfall forecast is divided into two sub-seasons: October to December 2020 (OND) and January to March 2021 (JFM).
The country is demarcated into three (3) zones according to the country’s climate drivers.
“The Meteorological Services Department will continue to monitor all the available seasonal climate indicators which influence Zimbabwe’s rainfall as they evolve. Thus, the seasonal rainfall predictions will be updated on a monthly basis beginning end of October,” the department said.