The Meteorological Services Department is seeking funds to purchase weather radars for use in forecasting precipitation accurately, a senior official has said. A weather radar is used to detect and locate precipitation, calculate its motion and estimate its type, for instance rain, snow or hail.
Met department director Dr Amos Makarau said it was critical that the country acquired the radars to be able to provide accurate weather information to stakeholders.
“We are doing the best we can to mobilise resources including from the Government and other development partners so that we get these radars,” he said.
“The good thing about radars is that they are able to detect precipitation within hundred meters anywhere in the country. If we have four of them covering the whole country, we are able to give early warning services that there is a flood or severe storm taking place in a particular area so that people do something about it,” he added.
Dr Makarau said at the moment, the Met department was using satellite technology which does not give the mode of precipitation.
“Without radars we are using satellite imagery. It is okay but it needs to be calibrated and may not give the mode of precipitation falling in a particular area. You see clouds only and you need an equation to estimate the precipitation coming out of that. And if there is certain amount of clouds which is always the case, you do not know the situation on the ground,” he said.
He added: “The radars actually detect precipitation directly and once it has been calibrated, it gives an indication of how much is actually falling in a particular area.”
The Met department used to operate four weather radars in the country but they ceased working when it failed to procure spare parts from the French firm which had supplied them after Western countries imposed sanctions on the country as retribution for agrarian reforms that the Government implemented to correct a colonial legacy.
This year the department has predicted that the country will receive normal to below normal rainfall and has requested the Government to provide it with funding to conduct cloud seeding.
Last season, Zimbabwe received normal to above normal rains which were, however, not evenly distributed, resulting in the country failing to achieve optimum crop production and having to import at least 700 000 tones to cover the deficit.
Changes in climate due to global warming have resulted in extreme weather conditions such as droughts, floods and cyclones which have affected many people around the world, particularly in less developed countries where capacities for mitigation and adaption are low. — New Ziana.