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Cloud seeding commences countrywide

by Staff reporter
29 Jan 2019 at 08:21hrs | Views
CLOUD seeding has commenced across the country, the Meteorological Services Department has said.

Speaking in a telephone interview, a forecaster Mr Haanyadzisi Batisayi said seeding started in Matabeleland North and Midlands provinces over the weekend.

Cloud seeding is the process of spreading either dry ice, or more commonly, silver iodide aerosols, into the upper part of clouds to try to stimulate the precipitation process and form rain. Mr Batisayi said seeding was done in Binga, Lusulu and Lupane and parts of the Midlands province.

"We started seeding and yesterday Lusulu received 89mm of rainfall, while Binga recorded 30mm. Gokwe, which falls under Midlands province but shares a border with Binga in Mat North received 68mm of rainfall," said Mr Batisayi.

He however said there was no seeding done yesterday as the situation was not conducive for any precipitation. Mr Batisayi said the current hot spell being experienced across the country was still within the normal temperature ranges for this period.

"Generally we are still in summer and temperatures have not yet broken any records. We have not yet experienced any abnormal temperatures although less rainfall is expected," he said.

He said cloud seeding was expected to be done in other provinces this week. Farmers across the country have raised concern over erratic rains, caused by the El Nino effect. Some crops in Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South are already showing signs of moisture stress.

Chief Nyangazonke of Kezi said some people in his area were on the verge of losing their crops as the heat and moisture stress was taking a toll on crops.

"We hope that the rains come as we mainly depend on produce from our fields. It has been hot over the past few days and we have not received any rains," said the chief.

Government set aside $400 000 for the exercise after meteorologists predicted normal to below-normal rainfall for the 2018/2019 season. When successfully done, cloud seeding augments rainfall.

Experts say the process doesn't have any side effects as the silver iodide used - a key component in the procedure - is essentially a naturally occurring salt. El NiƱo is associated with above-average warming of sea surface temperatures of the Pacific Ocean and is usually associated with reduced rainfall activity over Sub-Saharan Africa.

Source - chronicle