Mozambique + 1 more

Mozambique/Zimbabwe: The storm is over, flooding may follow in Zimbabwe

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Posted
Originally published
Release Date: 13 March 2003: 0800GMT
  • Japhet Dissipates
  • River Levels Declining
  • Localized Flooding Forecast
Tropical Cyclone Japhet, aka Tropical Depression Japhet, which left so much damage across southern and central Mozambique, as well as southern and eastern Zimbabwe, is finally gone. Paradoxically, Japhet also brought relief in terms of water supply to many areas that had been starved of rainfall for the main part of the rainfall season. The duration of the cyclone/depression was lengthened by its interaction with other weather systems, including the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). This caused the remnants of the cyclone to dump large amounts over the sub-region throughout the extended duration of its influence. During the earlier part of the cyclone's interaction with land, the main damage was caused by the intense winds that destroyed infrastructure in southern Mozambique and eastern Zimbabwe. Torrential rains that accompanied the cyclone (and later depression) also caused flooding in both countries, claiming at least 19 lives. Interaction between the remnants of Japhet and other weather systems in the sub-region also caused flooding in other areas, such as northern Zimbabwe. Rainfall has since subsided in most areas that were significantly affected by Japhet, and authorities are still taking stock of the damage in these areas. River levels in most areas affected by the cyclone have also declined significantly, and further flooding is not expected in these areas, particularly as further intense rainfall is not expected. However, authorities are still advising that people in affected areas exercise caution.

The Department of Meteorological Services in Zimbabwe recently issued a warning for potential flooding in western and northern Zimbabwe due to heavy rains that may arise from an intense low pressure system that has developed over the Zambezi valley. An African Weather Hazards Assessment (AWHA) bulletin issued by NOAA suggests that this low pressure system may also affect parts of Zambia, Malawi, and northern Mozambique. If heavy rains materialize as forecast, local flooding may occur in some of these areas, especially as there is already high soil moisture in these areas. However, widespread flooding is not expected. The AWHA is issued once a week after a multidisciplinary team of African and American scientists has analyzed current meteorological and hydrological conditions, and their potential impacts.

A Regional Flood Watch will be issued in due course detailing the flooding and impacts that arose from cyclone Japhet, and other earlier flood events that occurred across the SADC region during the 2002/2003 rainfall season.

The significant Weather Developments Bulletin is intended to provide timely highlights of developing weather patterns that might pose a threat to human lives and property. While efforts have been made to ensure accuracy of this report, country specific requirements should be addressed to the National Meteorological Services. The RRSU and FEWSNET produce a Situational Regional Floodwatch during the rainy season.

Acknowledgements: The information in this bulletin is derived from an analysis of issuances by the JTWC, La Reunion Tropical Cyclone Centre, and SADC DMC. An analysis of Meteosat satellite imagery, NOAA satellite-derived rainfall estimates, AFWA rainfall forecast models, USGS/FEWS NET water balance and hydrological streamflow models, ground reports, and any other available information is incorporated to estimate ground impacts. USGS/FEWS NET also provides direct input.

The SADC Remote Sensing Unit, P.O. Box 4046, Harare, Zimbabwe.
E-mail: rrsu@fanr-sadc.co.zw
Fax: 263-4-795283