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FEWS Southern Africa Regional Flood Watch 13 Dec 2001

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With above normal rains forecast for much of the SADC region, this issue of the Regional Flood Watch reports the onset of the rains, the likelihood of floods this season and the current state of flood preparedness in the region. The RRSU and FEWS NET will be issuing periodic Regional Flood Watch reports on an ad hoc basis throughout the 2001/2002 season.

Satellite imagery from METEOSAT confirm a good start to the 2001/2002 rainfall season in most areas of the region. NOAA/CPC Rainfall Estimate (RFE) images provide a quantitative estimate of the amount of rain (in mm) that has fallen during 10-day "dekads". As seen in the dekadal imagery below, rainfall levels have increased steadily in most areas since the beginning of the season. The relatively heavy rains that have persisted since the third dekad of October in the Limpopo and Umbelizi River catchment areas of Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Swaziland have had consequences downstream, where rivers have approached the alert level. However, no serious downstream damage has been reported, as the water was easily absorbed by the Pequenos and Libombo dams and flows remain near normal for this time of year.

Cumulative rainfall estimates for the period 1 October through 10 December shows that most areas have received good rainfall since the start of the season. Although northeastern Angola and most of the DRC received fairly heavy rainfall, cumulative totals in these areas remain below average for this time of year. Most central and southeastern parts of the region, from central Zambia through Botswana and Zimbabwe into southern Mozambique, Lesotho and eastern South Africa, have received more rains than normal for this time of year. In contrast, rainfall has been light in some northern communal areas of Namibia, northern Mozambique, Malawi and in Tanzania, where there is concern over the short-season vuli crops.

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