MET department asks flood-prone communities to be on high alert as Malawi expects to receive good rainfall patterns

By Steven Mkweteza & Mayamiko Phiri

The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) says the country has a high chance of receiving good rainfall pattern in the 2020/2012 rainfall season.

The MET Department thus warns people living in flood-prone communities to be on high alert as there might be threats in extreme weather events such as floods and also pockets of prolonged dry spells.

MET Department Director, Jolam Nkhokwe said this at a press briefing in Blantyre that in the 2020/2021 season outlook, the country is expected to receive total rainfall amounts ranging from 500mm to 3,000mm.

Past floods experience

He said from October to December this year, most of the Southern and Central Regions are expected to receive normal to above-normal rainfall amounts while most of the Northern areas are expected to receive normal to below-normal rainfall amounts.

He further said most areas in all three regions are expected to receive normal to above-normal rainfall amounts from January to March, 2021.

“Our forecast implies that during this year’s rainfall season, there is high chance of many parts of the country receiving good rainfall,”  Nkhokwe said.

MET Department Director, Jolam Nkhokwe

“However, since La Nina conditions are established, extreme weather events such as floods in prone area are likely to occur due to heavy rains while some parts of the country are likely to experience pockets of prolonged dry spell conditions mostly over the South and Centre.”

To account for local factors, Nkhokwe said his department has produced downscaled district forecasts and will continuously issuing seasonal updates, 10-day agro-meteorological bulletins, weekly forecasts, five-day and daily forecasts.

Nkhokwe added that the department will continue to monitor and issue advisories on the development and movement of tropical cyclones.

Coronavirus alert

“However, it should be noted that the forecast is relevant for relatively large areas and seasonal time scales and therefore may not fully account for all factors that influence localized climate variability, such as daily, weekly and month on month variations,” he said.

On another note, Nkhokwe advised the agricultural sector to seek advice from the Ministry of Agriculture when applying this forecast in decision making such as when to plant.

Currently, global models are projecting weak La Nina conditions during the 2020/2012 rainfall season. La Nina phenomenon is unusual cooling of waters over the Eastern Central Equatorial Pacific Ocean, which are known to bring more rains over southern Africa including Malawi.

Coronavirus alert

Past rainfall seasons that were affected by La Nina conditions similar to the anticipated 2020/2021 season are; 1983/1984, 1995/1996, 2005/2006 and 2017/ 2018.

Climate analyses on the past La Nina years show that the country had normal onset, progression and cessation of rains.

Coronavirus alert