The Herald (Harare)

4 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Met Department Warns Country to Brace for Heavy Rains

ZIMBABWE should brace for heavy rains associated with violent winds in different parts of the country, the Meteorological Services Department has said. The heavy rains were expected from yesterday to December 10 and there are high chances of flash flooding in some areas.

Senior meteorologist Mr Jonathan Chifuna said the storms would affect mostly Masvingo, south of the Midlands and south of Manicaland.

"A cloud system should be covering the country for the entire period. Therefore moist conditions should be expected across the country with moderate to heavy falls. We are expecting rains in excess of 50mm in 24 hours in different areas."

The met department advised members of the public not to attempt crossing flooded low-lying bridges even when using vehicles.

In cases of flooding, Mr Chifuna said people should quickly move to higher ground if they notice that their area is becoming flooded.

"Do not take shelter under trees during a thunderstorm to avoid being electrocuted. People should refrain from parking vehicles under big and old trees as the trees may fall down."

Mr Chifuna urged tobacco growers to insure their crops against hail damage. Since the onset of the rainy season mid-November some areas have been experiencing strong winds and heavy rains destroying households and property worth thousands of dollars.

In Zambara, Mt Darwin, strong winds destroyed houses, schools and left many people homeless. Seventeen people were hospitalised as a result of injuries sustained from the storm. People in the area have been urged to plant trees to act as windbreaks against the violent winds. At the moment, the area is exposed and winds have wreaked havoc, as there is no protection.

Twenty-one families in Ratanye Village, Matobo District, were left homeless after strong winds destroyed their homes over the weekend. The strong winds accompanied by heavy rains uprooted trees, blew off roofs and damaged property.

Civil Protection Unit director Mr Madzudzo Pawadyira said teams from the unit had visited flood-prone areas to educate the communities on handling disasters.

"We have identified the areas on which people in flood areas could find refuge in cases of floods and we are on high alert," he said.

The rainfall season is a known period during summer that is October to March the next year though in the previous years it extended to April. The rainfall season has already begun, but the onset of the rains varies from place to place and this is mainly of importance to farmers. The onset of the rains is when an area receives 20mm in 24hours and there is no dry spell for 10 days from that time.

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