4 January 2013

Tanzania: Heavy Off-Season Rains Expected

THE Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) has announced that the ongoing off-season rains will continue to come down until March this year.

The TMA Director General, Dr Agnes Kijazi, told a press conference in Dar es Salaam that the rainfalls were expected to be normal to above normal over most areas except for the northwestern part of the country where they expect to feature below lesser rains.

She however cautioned members of the public to take precautionary measures for their safety and that of their property. The TMA's forecasts come as rains fell heavily in Dar es Salaam and other parts of the country for two days in a row.

Dr Kijazi said the rains have been caused by climate variability and change -- largely the 'Dumile' storm from East Madagascar and the occurrence of a Tropical Cyclone called Murjan during mid October, last year.

Dr Kijazi pointed out that Southern Highlands, Central and Southern regions are expected to receive normal to above normal rains while Western areas are expected to receive normal rains with pockets of above normal downpours in few areas.

She noted that during the period of October and December 2012 the Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) over the equatorial Tropical Pacific Ocean decreased dramatically from above normal to normal indicating the absence of La Nina or El Nino which causes rains.

"This abrupt changes in SSTs and change in the climate systems were unusual and had never happened over the last few years," said Dr Kijazi. She said that due to unusual changes of SSTs and climate systems, climate scientists from the Great Horn of Africa (ICPAC) and Southern Africa (SADC-CSC) including Tanzanian scientists conducted a workshop to discuss and analyze the climate systems.

"Based on the reports from the two workshops, TMA has also analyzed the climate systems and provided these updates and performance of rainfall season in the country," she noted. The DG also took the opportunity to urge the general public to use the ongoing rains carefully as the rainfall season is short.

"Water from the rivers streaming towards dams should also be used carefully," said Dr Kijazi while briefing on the Rainfall Performance for October to December 2012 and Outlook for January to March 2013.

"The agency strongly advises all users including agriculture, food security, livestock, wildlife, water resources, health sectors to seek more advice from experts in their respective sectors," she added.

Meanwhile, acting Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Mr Raymond Mushi, reiterated the government's call that residents living in valleys should vacate the areas to safe locations to avoid adversary effects which may be caused by the ongoing rains.

"The residents living in the valleys should vacate the areas to avoid expected tragedy like the one that occurred in 2011," he told the 'Daily News' over the phone yesterday. His call followed a survey by this newspaper which was carried out yesterday.

The survey showed that some residents were still living in flood prone areas especially in valleys and lowlands. Rains that pounded on Wednesday night and yesterday afternoon caused heavy traffic in the city and waterlogged lowlands.

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