Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
THE Meteorological Service Department (MSD) has predicted heavy and destructive rains for a seven-day period across the country until Wednesday.
The rains started on Thursday spreading across most parts of the country yesterday.
Since the start of the rainy season in October, rains have caused destruction of property in Bulawayo, Midlands, Matabeleland and other parts of the country while lives have also been lost.
Six people travelling in an Isuzu double cab were swept away at flooded Gweru River Bridge on Sunday. Two bodies were recovered on Monday and four are still missing as the search mission has been called off.
Authorities have urged members of the public to be on high alert as the heavy rains could result in huts and houses collapsing.
In a statement, MSD said the heavy rains could result in flooding.
“Continuous rains are expected countrywide from Thursday 14 through to Wednesday 20 January 2021. The current rainfalls associated with the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, (ITCZ) should persist throughout the week, with localised heavier downpours in excess of 30mm in some places. NB: Soils are saturated thus any excess rains may lead to localised flash flooding and downstream flooding,” reads an MSD statement.
“Members of the public should watch out for collapse of huts/houses and fallen trees/tree branches due to excessive moisture.”
The MSD warned communities living in downstream areas against crossing flooded rivers even when their areas would not have received significant rains.
Earlier in the week, MSD warned that tropical cyclones and serious floods remain a real danger in the second-half of the 2020/21 rainy season while the Civil Protection Authority (CPU) has activated structures to attend to any rain related disasters.
Already, some dams in the country are spilling and rain continues to fall in abundance in a rainy season expected to end in March.
The ground is already saturated with water in most areas, so all rain water immediately becomes run-off and increases the chances of dangerous flash flooding countrywide.
The MSD had predicted normal to above normal rainfall in the 2020/21 rainy season owing to the La Nina climate pattern in Pacific Ocean, with improved rains expected across the Sadc region.
The weather forecaster said the country has recorded more than 300mm of rains so far across most parts of the country, pointing to significant rainfall.
Normally from October to December the country receives subdued rainfall compared to the January to March second-half of the rainy season.
The country in December escaped tropical Cyclone Chalane after the storm downgraded into a weakened tropical depression.
The rains have also resulted in improved inflows at the country’s dams.
The CPU has said the $100 million that Government released in anticipation of Cyclone Chalane would be used for evacuations and other eventualities in case of rain disasters.
The MSD said areas such as Binga received heavy downpours of 83mm on Thursday while more rains are expected across the southern part of the country. “Widespread thunderstorms and morning rains are expected across the country, with localised heavy downpours in excess of 50mm in 24 hours, especially over Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Bulawayo Metropolitan, Midlands and northern areas of Masvingo provinces. These storms may be accompanied by destructive winds,” read a statement from the MSD.
The season so far has been dominated by heavy storms, recording +50mm in 24 hours in several places. In some places such as Mhondoro, Gokwe, Kanyemba, Chishawasha, the rainfall amounts recorded in a period of 24 hours have even exceeded 100mm triggering some flash flooding incidents. – @nqotshili.