The nation will gleefully breathe a heavy sigh of relief following what the Meteorological Services Department dubbed a ‘normal-rain season’ in their recent seasonal rainfall outlook for October 2013/2014.
The last year’s declaration of droughts in various parts of the country sent waves of panic to the nation especially farmers. As a result, there was a more heightened curiosity on the weather forecast issue to ascertain whether the future spells doom again or there is an improvement.
Speaking in the breakfast meeting held at Cresta Hotel on Friday, the Director of Meteorological Service, Thabang Botshoma said it is quiet encouraging and exciting that his department has received a flood of requests from various stake-holders all in demand of the forecast.
According to the forecast statement, all parts of the country will receive normal rains oscillating between above normal and below normal.
For October, November and December 2013 (OND), the northern and southwestern parts of the country are expected to receive largely normal with a tendency to below normal rains while eastern parts (North-East, Southern parts of Central Districts, Southeast, Kgatleng, eastern parts of Southern) are expected to receive largely normal with a tendency to above-normal rains.
Northern parts include Ngamiland, Chobe and northern parts of the Central Districts whereas the Southwestern parts covers Kgalagadi, Ghanzi and western areas of the country. In the press release read to the media personnels, Mr Botshoma accentuated that, “During the months of January, February and March (JFM) 2014, the whole country is expected to receive largely normal with a tendency to above-normal rains.”┬á
The department said conclusions reached in the forecast were based on the state of the Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) over the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans. The┬á SSTs anomalies in east and central pacific Ocean were reported to be depicting El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) neutral conditions which is likely to be sustained through the Southern hemisphere summer.
The report proceeded to posit that the near average SSTs in the Indian Ocean and ENSO neutral conditions will influence the weather and climate systems (patterns) over Botswana although they are not the only influencing factors for rainfall. The said department further advised that the seasonal predictions are relevant only to seasonal time scale and relatively large areas. They mentioned that nevertheless local and month-to-month variation may occur.
Be that as it may, the issue of precision came under scrutiny at this year’s forecast as attendants claimed that in cases of false alarm from the Meteorological Services Department, the nation especially the Agricultural sector, suffers greatly.
In a separate interview, Thomas Mogome, who is an Agronomist in the Ministry of Agriculture told this publication that, of course in the case of a ‘false alarm’, the farmers are inconvenienced and economically affected but hastened to point out that farmers are advised to take the forecast seriously and plan/act accordingly.
For his part Gaselemogwe Senai of Water Utilities said they look forward to working with the Meteorological Services to help water related issues. Quizzed on whether the past forecast were of any useful purpose in his department and whether the current status of Gaborone Dam was captured in the previous forecast, Senai said, “Yes they were useful because the predictions were accurate and spot-on. Hence they alerted the nation well in time to enable proper and timely response” .
The meteorological services report comes at the time where the country is experiencing severe water shortage; a situation that have prompted water to be rationed.