Walira mvula, walira matope (“He who asked for rain also asked for mud”)

Too much of a good thing

The usual seasonal rains in Malawi have been amplified by tropical cyclones (Bansi and 93S) in the Indian Ocean – and they are, by the way, fantastic examples of the Coriolis Effect. Both are rotating in a clockwise direction – in contrast to cyclones in the northern hemisphere, which rotate in a counter- (or “anti-“, as the Brits here in Malawi say) clockwise direction.

In any case, the results have been catastrophic – add strong winds and more rain to an already rain-soaked country and houses in which the bricks are held together by mud (rather than cement) disintegrate. Even worse, houses, vehicles and people have been swept away as various rivers rapidly filled and overflowed their banks. In some parts of Malawi, more than a month’s worth of rain (~200mm for January) has fallen in 24 hours.

  In Malawi, a shot of the Liwonde barrage. Guess we’ll have to take an alternate route to the lake for awhile! (photo via What’sApp)

In Malawi, a shot of the Liwonde barrage. Guess we’ll have to take an alternate route to the lake for awhile! (photo via What’sApp)

  Downtown Blantyre (Haile Selassie Avenue) right after a heavy rain (photo via What’s App).

Downtown Blantyre (Haile Selassie Avenue) right after a heavy rain (photo via What’s App).

We’ve experienced rotating power cuts as debris is removed from the turbines (nearly all of the electricity in Malawi is hydro-electric), and, irony of ironies, there are widespread water shortages! We are coping with the water shortage by placing large containers outside to collect rain water.

Mozambique is caught in the same meteorological situation, and here is probably the most widely circulated video footage of the week:

 

 

Luckily, the MSU House here in Blantyre is on the highest ground in the neighborhood – so we are warm and dry! Ark construction will start soon, unless the rains abate.

Never a dull moment...