stress; dry

Early season moisture stress worsens across East and Southern Africa

Seasonal moisture stress has worsened across Southern and Eastern Africa after poorly distributed rains of between 5 mm and 25 mm in several provinces in Zimbabwe, Botswana, southern Mozambique and northern South Africa in the last week of December.

In its latest Weather Hazards Bulletin for the period between 5 and 11 January 2018, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) said the rains were also “relatively lighter” over southern Angola and northern Namibia.

Poor and erratic rains also contributed to the onset of early season moisture stress for crops in portions of South Africa and Madagascar in the last week of December.

“Below-average rainfall during December has resulted in early season moisture deficits across southern Mozambique and in several parts of Zimbabwe. The continuation of poor rainfall during January is likely.

“While east-central South Africa has benefited from above average rains since late November, the northern and west-central areas of the country have reported moderate to large moisture deficits over the past 30 days,” reads part of the analysis.

Also read: Drought persists over parts of East and Southern Africa

Although Tropical Cyclone Ava is expected to bring heavy rains over eastern and central Madagascar, serious precipitation declines have continued over several western provinces of the Indian Ocean island nation.

Large moisture deficits, characterised by negative vegetative conditions, are reported to be developing over north-western Angola. However, countries north of the Zambezi River are expected to get the bulk of regional rains expected between 5 and 11 January 2018.

“During the last week, much of southern Africa’s seasonal rainfall distribution was concentrated towards the north over eastern Zambia, Malawi, northern Mozambique and southern Tanzania.

Also read: Another drought forecast bad news for East Africa

“The highest weekly totals (of up to 100 mm) were recorded across the southern provinces of Tanzania and the Nampula region of Mozambique. Widespread, favourable amounts also fell across Malawi, Zambia and eastern Angola, but south of the Zambezi River, the rainfall was more scattered,” FEWSNET said.

Little or no rainfall is forecast over Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and southern Mozambique in the period up to 11 January. The failure of rains in December worsened seasonal moisture deficits in southern Zambia, Zimbabwe, western and southern Mozambique and northern South Africa.

In East Africa, an early end to seasonal rainfall has caused the onset of drought in eastern Kenya and southern Somalia. Seasonal moisture deficits also worsened across several areas of Tanzania during the last week of December.

Also read: Moisture deficit threatens early crops across Africa

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