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Floods, dry spell likely

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By Feston Malekezo:

NOT GOOD—Maize drying up in a field

Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has said there is likelihood of moderate El Niño weather condition during the 2018/2019 rainfall season, which would influence floods and lead to drought in some parts of the country.

Briefing journalists in Blantyre Monday, the department’s Director, Jolam Nkhokwe, said the El Niño phenomenon is expected between September and November.

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“Global models are currently projecting the development of moderate El Niño conditions between September and November 2018 which are likely to persist throughout the 2018/2019 rainfall season,” he said.

An El Niño phenomenon is an unusual warming of waters over the Eastern Central Equatorial Pacific Ocean and influences rainfall patterns across the world, including Southern Africa and Malawi.

Nkhokwe said during the period, October 2018 and March 2019, most Northern to North of Central areas of the country are expected to receive normal-to-above rainfall patterns, while most Southern to South of Central areas are expected to receive normal-to-below rainfall.

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“This implies that the impact associated with reduced or increased rainfall amounts, such as prolonged dry spells and floods, respectively, are likely to occur during the season,” he said.

Nkhokwe said their prediction is based on observations and analyses in Malawi and additional input from climate experts meeting which took place in Gaborone, Botswana recently.

Moderate El Niño phenomenon was also experienced in 2002/2003 and in 2009/2010 in Malawi.

Malawi climate is influenced by El Niño Southern Oscillation, The Indian Ocean Dipole and Subtropical Indian Ocean Dipole, with rainfall patterns driven by Inter-tropical Convergence Zone, Congo air mass and tropical cyclones.

In the 2017/2018 rainfall season, some areas, mostly in the Southern Region were affected by a dry spell which have undermined maize production.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, 3.3 million people would be food-insecure during the 2018/2019 lean period.

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