Journal of Climatology & Weather Forecasting

ISSN - 2332-2594


Effects of the 2015/2016 El Niño on Zimbabwe Rainfall

Vimbai Mamombe*

 This study investigates the impacts of the 2015/2016 El Niño event on Zimbabwe rainfall. Rainfall data from the meteorological services department is used to compare the mean monthly rainfall for the 2015/2016 season with the mean rainfall for the 1981 to 2010 climate period; the mean onset and cessation dates for the 2015/2016 rainfall season and their deviation from the mean for the 1981 to 2010 climate period. Although the season started earlier than usual in some places, an anomalously dry peak of the rainy season (December, January, and February) and prolonged intra season dry spells resulted in crop failure. Higher than usual rainfall received during the month of November contributed significantly to the early onset of the rainfall season. Results show some places where the rainfall intensity and distribution failed to meet the requirements for declaration of the start of the season. The El Niño induced erratic rainfall pattern resulted in the month of March being wetter than the month of January which is usually the wettest month because of the position of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) in the southern hemisphere. Above normal rainfall received during the month of March resulted in spatial variations in the mean end of season dates, but generally, the season ended earlier than usual in most parts of the country. The 2015/2016 seasonal forecast issued in August 2015 projected drier than usual conditions over a large portion of the country. Results indicate that a seasonal forecast is a significant tool for planning in order to enhance food security and disaster preparedness.