Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter—
The country is expected to receive heavy rains from tomorrow up to Tuesday next week with a possibility of flooding in some areas, the Meteorological Services Department has warned.
The weather organisation has since advised responsible authorities to be high on alert as many people might need assistance.
The Civil Protection Unit has also warned of possible landslides in hilly slopes in susceptible areas.
Farmers are likely to suffer heavy leaching and damage to their crop as a result of flooding and heavy downpours.
In a statement yesterday, the MSD said heavy rains in excess of 90 millimetres in 24 hours were expected in Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Manicaland and Masvingo and advised the general public to take the heightened warning seriously.
“The MSD wishes to alert the public that potentially, heavier rain is expected to affect much of Mashonaland Central and East, Manicaland as well as north of Masvingo from Saturday to Tuesday. Already the ground in some areas is well soaked and therefore this further aggravates the risk of flooding in these areas.
“We are alerting responsible authorities such as Civil Protection Unit, Police, local authorities, rescue services including power utilities, to be on the alert for the duration of this period,” he said.
The department said the heavy rains would be caused by a series of low pressure systems, both in the lower and middle levels of the atmosphere which is expected to enter the country through Manicaland from Mozambique.
“This combination is conducive for increasing and squeezing the moisture in the country, hence the increased precipitation,” said the MSD.
CPU acting director Ms Sibusisiwe Ndlovu, said the heavy rains would significantly increase the risk of flooding as the ground was already soaked.
“In most parts of the country run off will be high. There will be increased landslides in hilly slopes in susceptible areas.
“The risk of flooding is likely to be severe for areas that usually flood, low lying areas, wetlands areas close to rivers and major tributaries, areas close to river confluences and areas that have already experienced flash flooding this season,” she said.
Ms Ndlovu said people in Manicaland and Muzarabani should take particular care and necessary precautions during this period.
In Manicaland, all communities living in the eastern highlands, particularly Chimanimani, Nyanga, Mutare, Matasa and all living in Middle Sabi should be on alert. In Mashonaland Central, all communities in Muzarabani should take necessary precautions.
“People should keep informed of weather bulletins and closely monitor levels particularly at night and timely move to higher ground.
“Children should be supervised at play, on their way to schools and from school. It is also advisable to monitor houses in case they succumb to excessive moisture. Do not attempt to cross flooded rivers and streams whether on foot or by car,” she said.
Agriculture expert, Mr Ivan Craig, said the heavy rains were a challenge this period as the ground was already saturated.
“Heavy rains will increase waterlogging, leaching and washing away of the top soil and nutrients. Farmers will not be able to apply fertiliser, herbicides or pesticides as they will be washed away.
“If the rains are associated with heavy winds and hail they will also thresh crops especially maize,” he said.
Mr Craig said the rains were positive in that water table would rise, dams would fill up and rivers would start flowing.
The MSD forecast normal to above normal rainfall during the 2016/17 season.
This was followed by advisory from the SADC Regional Early Warning Unit.
According to the SADC Early Warning Unit, it was crucial that early planning and mitigation programmes be put in place so that communities, businesses and respective countries likely to be impacted prepare as speedily as possible to face the potential threatening of the extreme weather and climate events.
The experts also warned of high chances of water borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid among others.
There is also the increase of vector borne diseases such as Malaria.
Harare has already suffered as two people have died of water-borne diseases.
Farmers and supporting agencies were advised to be prepared for incidences of pests and diseases for both crops and livestock. This is especially relevant in areas where specific pests and diseases tend to occur under conditions of high rainfall.