Climate Outlook February to April 2019
Review of Temperature and Rainfall – October to December 2018
The start of the rainy season (October-November-December-2018) suffered severe rainfall deficit. In October 2018 the entire country got off to a lean start with the southern and western lowlands experiencing very low rainfall that is from Berea to Quthing, with the latter the worst. The situation became worse in November where the entire country was under rainfall stress with the southern lowlands recording almost nil rainfall except few drops of less than 5mm and in 3 rainy days. There was however a slight improvement in December 2018 in some areas like Mohale’s Hoek which surpassed its monthly average by 21% followed by Qacha’s Nek at 6% and Botha-Bothe near average at -5%. The rest of the other areas were still dominated by very dry and very hot conditions.
Fig.1: Rainfall accumulation (October - December 2018)
The first two weeks of January 2019 received moderate to heavy falls where the total rainfall accumulation of Oxbow, Butha-Buthe and Berea from 01st to 24th January is 140.9mm, 102.4mm and 110.4mm respectively. Other areas still experience deficit in rainfall for the period.
Fig.2: Normal and Actual Rainfall for January 2019
The country has experienced a spur of heat waves since October 2018 until January 2019. The excessive heat exacerbated moisture loss and further debilitated the already fragile and very dry surface. The above conditions of failed rains and excessive heat may lead to some crop failure in the coming harvest of 2019.
Rainfall and Temperature Outlook – February to April 2019
The country is expected to receive normal to below normal rains countrywide for the period February to April 2019. Occurrences of strong winds, lightning, thunderstorms and hailstorms are likely for the remaining months of autumn. Moreover, climate change is expected to exacerbate occurrence of these conditions resulting in increased frequency and intensity of these extreme weather events.
This calls for a better planning and alignment of productive economic activities with the prevailing and expected weather conditions. The Ministry of Energy and Meteorology will continuously advise the nation on impending weather hazards which might pose a risk to social welfare and property safety. The nation is therefore advised to take precautionary measures and stay alert for periodic updates.