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Rainfall is erratic and below normal in areas with September/October onset

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Southern Africa
  • November 30, 2013
Rainfall is erratic and below normal in areas with September/October onset

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  • Key Messages
  • Seasonal Progress
  • Short-Term Forecasts
  • Key Messages
    • The season began in several parts of the region, with below normal rainfall being received in the south-western and north-eastern parts of the region.

    • While awaiting the onset of rains expected in November and December, dry conditions from the last two seasons have persisted in parts of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.

    • In Lesotho and bimodal areas of Tanzania, the onset of rains have been erratic and delayed, leading to concerns for poor harvests in Tanzania’s short rainfall season.

    Seasonal Progress
    • Several areas have received significant rainfall between 1 October and 10 November (Figure 1). These rains facilitated land preparation in some areas, especially in areas where pre-season rains occurred. In other areas, such as parts of southern Mozambique, northern Tanzania and Lesotho, the rainfall has enabled planting.
    • Rainfall distribution has been poor and below normal in many of the areas where the season has started (Figure 2). This includes parts of Lesotho, South Africa and northern Tanzania.
    • On average, the season starts in November in most parts of the region and as such the start of rains has not yet occurred in many parts of the region (Figure 3). These areas include parts of Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Angola, where significant droughts were experienced in the last 1-2 seasons. Above normal rains will be required this season to offset the water deficits in some of these areas.
    • Areas in many parts of Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Madagascar, South Africa and Swaziland, as well as parts of Zambia and Zimbabwe, received sufficient rains in October to warrant an onset of rains (Figure 3). In areas where rains were received in late October to early November, further rainfall will be required by mid-November in order to successfully establish the onset of rains. 
    • Vegetation conditions in several parts of the region are currently below average due to the poor rainfall that has been experienced in the last 1 to 2 seasons, as well as the erratic rainfall received in several areas this season (Figure 4). This has constrained pasture availability, resulting in livestock body conditions remaining poor.
    • Vegetation conditions have however improved, and are above normal in a few areas, including parts of Mozambique and Tanzania, where some showers were received in September and October. In areas where significant rains were received in late October and early November (Figure 2 and 3), vegetation conditions are expected to improve over the next few weeks.

    Short-Term Forecasts
    • According to short-term forecasts from the United States National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), there is a possibility of good rainfall occurring in most areas, excluding the eastern and southern parts of the region. This is more likely to occur in the last two weeks of November, with less rains being expected in early December. The expected rainfall will encourage farmers to plant, as well as allow for establishment of planted crops. In addition, the forecast rains will also help to ameliorate long term drought conditions that are affecting several parts on southern Angola, northern Namibia, Botswana and northern South Africa.

    More information on remote sensing can be found at: and


    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Total rainfall from October 1 - November 10, 2013.

    Source: FEWS NET and USGS

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. Rainfall from October 1 - November 10, 2013, expressed as an anomaly of the 2001-2010 average.

    Source: FEWS NET and USGS

    Figure 3

    Figure 3. Onset of rains and anomaly, as of November 10, 2013.

    Source: FEWS NET and USGS

    Figure 4

    Figure 4. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index Anomaly, November 1-10, 2013.

    Source: FEWS NET and USGS

    FEWS NET’s Seasonal Monitor reports are produced for Central America and the Caribbean, West Africa, East Africa, Central Asia, and Somalia every 10-to-30 days during the region’s respective rainy season(s). Seasonal Monitors report updates on weather events (e.g., rainfall patterns) and associated impacts on ground conditions (e.g., cropping conditions, pasture and water availability), as well as the short-term rainfall forecast. Find more remote sensing information here.

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