Experts discuss rainfall outlook

27 September 2021 | Weather

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

Namibia’s rainy season stretches from October to March, during which the bulk of the country can expect normal to above-normal rainfall. However, there are areas, such as the north-west, which will receive below-normal rain.

This according to an expert discussion held last week on the outlook for Namibia’s 2021/2022 rainy season and what possible impacts this could have.

Sieglinde Somses from the Namibia Meteorological Services said that currently a neutral El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is observed and a weak La Niña is predicted.

She said from October to December, most parts of the country are likely to receive normal to above-normal rainfall, with the exception of the south-western parts where below-normal rainfall is predicted.

“For the November to January period, the greatest part of the country is projected to receive normal to above-normal rainfall, while the north-western parts are likely to receive normal to below-normal rainfall,” Somses said.

She added that the outlook for January to March also indicates that normal to above-normal rainfall is likely over most parts of the country, while normal to below-normal rainfall is likely over the north-west.

Disaster preparedness

Pauline Mufeti, head of Namibia’s Hydrological Services, said close monitoring of rivers and dams was necessary, as floods may occur.

“Our major water supply dams are already at 70 to 80% of their capacity,” she pointed out.

Mufeti said heavy rainfall can also destroy crops and cause disease outbreaks, infrastructure damage and loss of lives.

Below-normal rainfall causes its own problems, such as a shortage of drinking water, and crop and livestock losses.

Agri assessment

Meanwhile, Matheus Ndjodji from the agriculture ministry said there was a delay in the onset of the 2020/2021 rainy season, specifically in the crop-producing areas.

“Nonetheless, the greater part of the country received good rainfall.”

He said the southern, central, eastern and north-eastern regions received good rainfall, but the western part of the country and the north-central regions received below-average rainfall.

Kunene, part of Erongo and the western part of Omusati were the hardest hit.

Cereal estimates show that the country harvested about 154 100 tonnes this year, which was 26% above the average production of 122 400 tonnes, but 5% less than the previous season’s production of 162 500 tonnes.

“The reduction in harvest was largely due to severe and prolonged dry spells experienced in the north-central area, and excessive rainfall coupled with crop pests in some parts of the northeast.”

Ndjodji further said grazing and water supply improved in most parts of the country following good rainfall earlier this year, with grazing conditions ranging between fair and very good.

In the western part of the country, grazing conditions are worrisome due to ongoing drought.