Where is Spring rain?

2013-09-27 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL’S Spring weather with warmer temperatures has arrived. However, the expected, and much hoped for, rain has not.

The amount of rain that has fallen in Pietermaritzburg has been below average since June this year.

Sanjeev Sewnarain from the SA Weather Service said: “Generally the average month rainfall for September is 60 mm of rain. In 1996 we had just seven millimetres and then in 2007 and 2008 we had 21 and 17,4 mm respectively, which was also far below the average.”

So far this year Pietermaritzburg has only had 6,6 mm of rain for September. This is about a 10th of the average.

In August, Pietermaritzburg had only half the month’s average rainfall of 28 mm — just 14 mm. July saw just three millimetres instead of the average of 15 mm.

Durban’s rainfall has also been below average for the past three months. Durban’s September average is 67 mm of rain, but this year there has only been 20 mm. August had 13 mm instead of the average of 40 mm and July had 33 mm instead of the average of 47 mm.

The lack of rain may be a cause of concern for the farming industry, but they are not significantly affected by this yet. “The below-average rainfall may have impact on farmers with their crops and livestock. We will be monitoring the situation,” said Sandy la Marque, CEO of KwaNalu.

Farmers who plant crops are currently not affected by the lack of rain according, to Professor Mark Laing, from the plant pathology department at UKZN.

“Farmers do not plan on planting maize till mid October or November, and only once it is clear that the summer rainfall system has arrived. We are currently experiencing this winter system of cold fronts, so we cannot expect to get any rain yet, [since we are a] summer rainfall region,” Laing told The Witness.

The dams around KZN are still at acceptable levels. According to the latest readings provided by Umgeni Water, while the dams are not full, they are also not anywhere near danger levels.

The lowest dam reading is Nagle Dam at 73,22% capacity. Midmar Dam is at 85,33% capacity and all the other dams are above 92% full.

According to SA Weather Service, rain is expected over the province this weekend.

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