Sunday, 23 January 2022

TRIPICAL STORM TO BATTER ZIM

A TROPICAL storm is expected to hit the country as a depression evolves when landing on the Mozambican channel before drifting into Zimbabwe, a development that has seen Government activating disaster response mechanisms.

The tropical depression whose intensity is still to be ascertained is expected to land on the Mozambican coast today at midday, evolving into a tropical storm and is expected to head into Zimbabwe.

Some areas of the country are expected to receive rains exceeding 50mm per hour whereas normally between 5mm to 15 mm are received.

Anything that is above 30mm can sweep away a car.

However, the expected rains will be far less compared to those received in March 2019 when the country was hit by Cyclone Idai.

The threats posed by the development has seen the Government activating disaster response mechanisms including evacuation plans.

Cyclones have previously hit the country with devastating consequences, claiming lives and destroying infrastructure.

Rains received so far this rainy season in the country have caused damaged about 320 homesteads countrywide.

In a statement yesterday, the Meteorological Service Department (MSD) said intense downpours are expected in the northern parts of the country and some parts of Masvingo.

“The Tropical Depression is now evolving in the Mozambique Channel and has been gradually intensifying for the past few hours due to warm waters of the channel. This system will have a probable gradual re-intensification to the stage of a moderate tropical storm before it lands on the coast of Mozambique, between Angoche and the island of Mozambique, on Monday at around midday,” read the MSD statement.

It said Manicaland, Masvingo and all Mashonaland provinces are expected to receive heavy rains exceeding 50mm while light rains will be received in Matabeleland region and Midlands province.

“Based on the gusts of wind (which could approach or even locally exceed 100 km/h near the coast of Mozambique), intense rains and strong winds are expected in the southern districts of Manicaland into Masvingo Province on Monday 24 January 2022.

From Tuesday 25 till Thursday 27 January 2022, heavy rains (above 50mm) are probable in all Mashonaland Provinces and Manicaland. Light rains are anticipated elsewhere across the country with cloudy conditions prevailing,” read the statement.

Civil Protection Unit director, Mr Nathan Nkomo said Government was activating all its grassroot structures and vulnerable communities will be evacuated to safe centres.

“The alert was given as usual. We have activated our sub national structures and I’m happy that those structures are now coordinated by Permanent Secretaries for Provincial Affairs and Devolution.

“What is required is that we need to quickly alert everyone and we urge them to also ensure that before the tropical depression hits the country all the vulnerable communities where possible must be evacuated to safe places. And for now, the only safe place is a school and we will take advantage of the fact that schools are still closed,” said Mr Nkomo.

He said funds have been disbursed to ensure that provinces can respond to any rain-related disasters.

“We have released the budgets to our provinces which we think they can start preparing for any eventualities. I know that money can never be adequate but we have sent some reasonable amounts which will allow them to kickstart the process of responding to the looming disaster. It might not be enough but it will find us somewhere in terms of our response,” said Mr Nkomo.

“That alert has also triggered a response from our partners as coordinated by United Nations Zimbabwe.”

He said today the emergency services subcommittee of the national Civil Protection Committee will meet to discuss how they can implement the national contingency plan in preparation for any disasters. Mr Nkomo said in the meantime members of the public should stay away from water bodies and avoid crossing flooded rivers and bridges whether on foot or while driving.

In an interview, MSD head of forecasting Mr James Ngoma said the rainfall will be very significant because under normal rains the country should receive between 5mm and 15mm every hour.

He said the rains will however not be anywhere near what was experienced when the country was hit by Cyclone Idai which ravaged Manicaland, killing hundreds.

“If you get anything that triples what is normal, we tend to call those extremes. So usually, our extremes begin at 25 mm for every hour or more. So, if you are getting 50mm it means you are getting continuous rainfall for more than two hours,” he said.

He said farmers need about 20mm per day. That amount of rain will be adequate for five days.

“So, if you are getting 50 mm, that is double the farmer’s requirement. It will mostly get to surface runoff and would cause flash flooding. And if you get 30mm or more of such rainfall, it will be enough to sweep away a vehicle and that is the type of a scenario we face.”  Chronicle

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