In its 10-day weather and agrometeorological bulletin, the Department of Climate Change & Meteorological Services reports that during the period of February 11-20, the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), oscillated over Malawi — “resulting in scattered rainfall activities which were heavy at times, particularly over southern areas with generally warm to hot temperature conditions experienced across the country”.
And during the second 10-day period (dekad) of February 2023, “scattered rainfall activities were experienced over the country” and that the recorded dekadal rainfall amounts “were above normal historical dekadal rainfall amounts for majority of southern areas”.
The bulletin also says “the normal to above normal dekadal rainfall amounts were experienced in majority of central areas of the country, with normal to below normal rainfall amounts over northernmost areas of the country”.
“Stations that recorded at least 150.0mm of rainfall during the period under review, included Thyolo — which recorded 267.8mm in 8 rainy days; Chiradzulu Agriculture recorded 265.2mm in 8 rainy days; Makoka Meteorological station in Zomba recorded 246.4mm in 7 rainy days; Namwera Agriculture in Mangochi recorded 168.4mm in 6 rainy days; Chileka in Blantyre recorded 166.8 in 8 rainy days and Ngabu Meteorological station in Chikwawa recorded 156.9mm in 7 rainy days.
“Cumulatively, since the start of October 2022 to 20 February 2023, normal to above normal rainfall amounts have been experienced over majority of areas of the country with pockets of normal to below normal rainfall amounts over central region of the country.
The Met experts say Malawi experienced warm to hot conditions during the period of February 11-20 with “mean daily maximum temperatures ranging from 22.6°C at Bvumbwe Meteorological station in Thyolo to 31.7°C at Ngabu Meteorological station in Chikwawa”.
“Mean daily minimum temperatures had ranged from 14.5°C at Kasungu Meteorological station to 23.6°C at Ngabu Meteorological station in Chikwawa.”
On relative humidity, air over Malawi was moist during the period of February 11-20 with “mean daily average relative humidity values recorded from various weather stations ranging from 73% at Ntaja and Chitedze Meteorological stations in Machinga and Lilongwe districts respectively to 86% at Bvumbwe Meteorological station in Thyolo”.
Wind speeds recorded during the period under review saw most parts of Malawi experienced light to moderate wind speeds with daily average wind speeds measured at a height of two metres above the ground level across the country ranging from 0.8 km per hour at Ngabu Meteorological station to 13.4 km per hour at Monkey Bay Meteorological station.
“Generally, medium to long hours of bright sunshine were observed over Malawi during the second dekad of February 2023 with mean daily values ranging from 6.5 hours per day at Bvumbwe Meteorological station to 8.6 hours per day at Ngabu Meteorological station and consequently the amount of solar radiation had ranged from 9.6 to 12.3 cal/cm2/day.
“During the period under review, there was continued good temporal and spatial distribution of rainfall particularly over central and southern areas of the country.”
The bulletin also said the rainfall that has been experienced during the dekad under review “supported maturity of maize as well as other crops but also enabled farmers to plant tuber crops such as sweet potatoes”.
This also contributed to the availability of water for livestock as well as supported growth and development of livestock grazing grass.
“Maize crop stand is very encouraging in all the three regions particularly where fertilizer or manure was applied as well as good agricultural practices as stipulated by the Ministry of Agriculture, were adhered to.
“The crop is reportedly at tasseling and cobbing stages over majority of central and northern areas while generally maturity over southern areas.
“Furthermore, majority of cash crops such as soya beans, tobacco are also reportedly doing well with soya beans generally at flowering stage over most of soya bean growing districts and some tobacco farmers having started harvesting in tobacco growing districts.
“However, there have been reports of flooding leading to crop wash aways as well as sporadic cases of fall army worm and snail infestation — particularly over central areas of the country. Furthermore, some northern areas have experienced relatively dry conditions resulting in moisture stress for crops such as maize.
“This has the potential to negatively affect the good crop stand thereby affecting production at local scale.”
Prospects for 2022/2023 rainfall season
The Met Department reports that this years rainfall season is “expected to be influenced by La Nina conditions that have been established over eastern-central equatorial Pacific Ocean”.
“Global models project that these conditions are likely to persist throughout the season. The rainfall forecast for the second part of the 2022/2023 season is that during January-March 2023, most areas in the south, center and the north are expected to receive normal to above-normal cumulative rainfall amounts.
“At national level, there are higher prospects of normal to above normal cumulative rainfall amounts over most parts during sub-season January, February and March of the 2022/2023 season.”
As the month of February draws to a close, the Met Department says “normal to above normal rainfall amounts are anticipated for majority of areas over Malawi with pockets of normal to below normal projections for some areas of the country, particularly central region”.
“In terms of temperature, generally normal conditions are anticipated to prevail during the month of February over majority of areas of the country with pockets of warmer than usual temperature conditions over some areas in all the three regions of the country.
“Cooler than usual conditions are projected over some southern areas of the country.
For the last dekad (February 21-28), wet conditions are anticipated over Malawi and that “the anticipated dekadal rainfall amounts are expected to be within the normal to above normal categories of the historical dekadal amount”.
“Farmers are advised to continuously follow weather forecasts and advisories during the growing season for proper planning and utilization of the weather and climate information and services in their various agricultural activities.”
Tropical Cyclone Freddy and Enala
Meanwhile, the Met Department is still alert on progress of Tropical Stormy Freddy, and reiterates that at its current position, poses no threat to Malawi weather.
As on Wednesday, evening the Met Department reported that the cyclone continues westward trajectory in the Mozambique Channel on its track heading towards Mozambique and that it was expected to continue to intensify as it crosses the Mozambique Channel before making landfall on Friday morning south of Beira on the coast of Mozambique.
“The cyclone is moving at a speed of about 19km/hour with estimated maximum wind speed of 130km/hour. After landfall in Mozambique Cyclone Freddy is expected to weaken.
“However, it will indirectly enhance rain belt mainly over central and northern Malawi as it makes a landfall south of Beira.”
On progress of severe tropical storm Enala, the report says it “will continue to stay away from inhabited lands and any chance of coming closer to the African continent is very slim”.
The Department thus assures the public of its continuation of the movement and strength of both Cyclone Freddy and Enala for any on Malawi weather will be communicated to the nation accordingly.