Zimbabwe: Met Dept Warns of Severe Cold Spell

THE Meteorological Services Department has warned of a cold front which is expected to move across Zimbabwe from today up to Saturday, with Bulawayo set to record a low of 6 degrees Celsius today.

The cold weather is expected to become more severe in the coming three weeks.

Bulawayo, Matabeleland South, Masvingo and parts of Manicaland provinces are expected to experience severe cold weather.

The maximum in Bulawayo today is likely to be 21 degrees and, in the early morning, the minimum will be six degrees, while in Gweru, a minimum of 4 degrees and a maximum of 20 degrees are expected.

"Bulawayo and Harare Metropolitan, parts of Midlands, Mashonaland East, Matabeleland South, Masvingo and Manicaland Provinces: It should be cold at first, with clear skies and chances of ground frost in frost prone areas. Windy, mild and cloudy conditions are expected later in the day with light rain and drizzle in places. On the other hand, mostly sunny but mild day-time conditions are anticipated in Matabeleland North, northern districts of Midlands, Mashonaland West and Central, becoming cool towards evening," said the Met Department in a report.

Principal Meteorologist Mr James Ngoma said people must keep warm as temperatures will be cold, windy and it will be cloudy until Saturday.

"We are expecting more clouds to filter in from Wednesday into the weekend. We are expecting a bit of cold conditions from much of the southern parts of the country. We advise people to keep warm during this period," he said.

"We are expecting most of the temperatures to be below 20 degrees for areas such as Matabeleland South into Masvingo as well as parts of Manicaland province. Most of those areas should have temperatures in the teens (between 13 and 19 degrees Celsius)."

Mr Ngoma said for the month of May, temperatures went as low as 13 degrees celsius on May 31 in 1984 but during the just ended month, the lowest was 14,4 degrees.

He said in June temperatures will continue to drop.

"We are still in the good zone. It's actually called the cool category, then it will get to the cold and the very cold. The temperatures that we were having this past month were in the mild category. People will be wearing jerseys only, but as the month goes on, they might be wearing a jersey and a jacket," said Mr Ngoma.

He said this is not the peak of winter as the winter solstice will be mild this June.

"Winter is still upon us and these systems come and go, so we shall keep people better informed as we go through the season. Winter officially started on May 1 and the peak of winter comes on the winter solstice, which is around June 20 to 21," said Mr Ngoma.

The winter solstice is the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year.

Mr Ngoma said the weather was a bonus for farmers as there will be little or no ground frost, thus not affecting their crops.

"In terms of ground frost, it's kind of reduced, as when there are such cold temperatures it's good news for farmers. We have been having ground frost over areas such as Matopos, Kezi and Plumtree for the past two weeks. But as we go into this period where there is more of this cloud cover, it maintains the temperatures in the teens and this reduces the occurrence of frost in these areas," said Mr Ngoma.

Last year, several horticultural farmers across the country counted losses running into thousands of dollars after frosty conditions affected their crops following a cold spell.

Temperatures fell significantly in some areas which caused damage to tomatoes, peas, butternut and potatoes.

The adverse weather conditions caught farmers unaware as they were expecting bumper harvests riding on the good rainfall the country got in the just ended season.

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