TMA predicts short vuli rains

THE Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA) has warned that dry spells are likely to characterise the coming short rainfall season (Vuli).

The fourth week of September 2022, according to TMA Director General Dr Agnes Kijazi, is predicted to be the beginning of the Vuli rainy season over the Lake Victoria Basin.

Otherwise, she stated that rains are anticipated to begin between the fourth week of October and the first week of November 2022 over the north-eastern highlands and northern coast.

“The Vuli rains are expected to be below normal to normal, characterised by late onset, poor distribution and prolonged dry spells,” she said.

According to her, the Vuli rainy season is specific for bimodal rainfall areas which include north-eastern highlands (Arusha, Manyara and Kilimanjaro regions); northern coast (northern part of Morogoro region, Pwani (including Mafia Island), Dar es Salaam and Tanga regions, Unguja and Pemba isles).

She added that the Lake Victoria basin includes Kagera, Geita, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Simiyu and Mara regions and the northern part of the Kigoma region (Kibondo and Kakonko districts).

“The season is likely to be distinguished by a late onset coupled with a poor temporal and spatial distribution of rainfall. In October and November, there will likely be extended dry periods, but the third and fourth weeks of December 2022 will see substantial recovery in rainfall,” she observed.

“Typically, the Vuli rainy season ends in December,” she continued. However, it is anticipated that rain would continue through January 2023 during this season.

Besides the below normal to normal rainfall conditions, TMA predicts warmer than usual temperatures across bimodal areas during the Vuli rainy season, in particular the northern coast and north-eastern highlands.

Tanzania has two major agro climatic areas – the unimodal and the bimodal rainfall areas.

The bimodal area has a short-rain minor cropping season, known as ‘Vuli’ and a main long rainy season called ‘Masika’. The bimodal areas extend over the northern and northeastern regions, they include Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Moshi, Tanga, Kigoma, Kagera, Mwanza, Mara, Morogoro, Mbeya, Dar es Salaam and Coast.

During Vuli rainy season, she said reduced soil moisture is expected to occur in many bimodal rainfall areas. The situation is expected to affect agricultural activities such as land preparation, planting and use of agricultural inputs.

Moreover, an increase in crop diseases and pests such as ants, armyworms, locusts and rodent are expected to occur during the season and thus affect crops and production in general.

“Farmers are advised to practice timely planting, plant early maturing and drought tolerant crops such as cassava, sweet potatoes, sorghum and legumes. Farmers are further advised to apply climate-smart agriculture practices and technologies as well as seek technical advice from extension officers on the application of good agricultural practice,” said Dr Kijazi.

She further said TMA advises farmers, livestock keepers, wildlife conservation authorities, hydrological and health sectors to continue seeking and utilising experts’ advice in their respective sectors.

Dr Kijazi also said that events of heavy and short-duration of rainfall might occur over a few areas despite the expected suppressed rainfall condition. Users of forecast information are also advised to follow the 24-hour, 10-day, and monthly forecasts as supplied by TMA, she added.

“Although many places are predicted to get below normal to normal rainfall, it should be noted that short periods of heavy rain may occur in a few areas,” she said.

She added that TMA will continue to monitor the trend of weather systems and provide updates on the direction of rainfall in the country as needed. In addition, stakeholders are advised to contact the Authority to obtain specific seasonal forecast information to meet specific needs in their sectors.

According to her, TMA has continued to provide the downscaled outlook at the district level where a total number of 86 districts located within the bimodal rainfall regime are going to receive the downscaled seasonal rains. In addition, the rainfall forecast in all these districts reveals that below normal to normal rains are expected in most areas.

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