• The October-December 2021 period was characterised by drier than average conditions across most of northern and central Zimbabwe, where some areas registered about half of the usual rainfall. This led to some delay in the onset of the season, reduced vegetation cover and elevated soil temperatures due to low moisture content. The southern areas, in contrast, enjoyed average or above average rainfall.
• This situation changed suddenly at the beginning of January, with heavy rainfall across most of Zimbabwe linked to the passage of tropical storm Anna. This resulted in a recovery in vegetation conditions and increased soil moisture reserves.
• In February, drier than average conditions returned across most of the country, in particular during the second dekad of the month. Long dry spells of around three weeks were registered in the southern and eastern areas of the country.
• This situation of extreme dryness continued until mid-March. The short-range forecast indicates the possibility of significant rainfall bringing some respite from the dry hot conditions, but this is expected to be short-lived and dry conditions should return after this wet spell.
• Such long and intense dry spells may lead to significant impacts on rainfed crop production, in particular where the crop was in the flowering and grain filling stage.