Banking on rain god

2016-07-21 11:03
Islands appeared after water levels at Albert Falls Dam dropped to 44,51% on November 19, 2015.

Islands appeared after water levels at Albert Falls Dam dropped to 44,51% on November 19, 2015. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Hopes for bucketing rain — predicted at over 70 mm for the province next Monday — may provide some drought relief, but it is unlikely that the dwindling levels of local dams will see any major differences.

Water levels at some KwaZulu-Natal dams have dropped to half of what they were at the same time last year.

The South African Weather Services (Saws) said yesterday they predict heavy downfalls between Sunday and Tuesday with the chance of moderate snow in the province.

In a statement to The Witness yesterday, Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said the levels of Spring Grove Dam and Mearns Dam are on a steady decline, losing 0,35% and 0,29% respectively each week.

They are currently being used to transfer water into Midmar Dam.

Harichunder said Umgeni Water is concerned about Albert Falls Dam, which receives its water from Midmar and supplies water to Nagle Dam.

However, because Midmar is now below 50%, the release of water into Albert Falls is not adequate to make a significant difference.

Harichunder said this has caused a 0,40% weekly reduction to Albert Falls Dam and a 0,59% reduction to Nagle Dam.

As of yesterday, Midmar’s water levels were at 45% — a 24% reduction from the same day last year.

Similarly, Mearns Dam dropped by 47% and Spring Grove Dam by 37% and are currently on 39% and 59% respectively.

Levels at Albert Falls have dropped by more than half from 59% last year to 28%.

Nagle Dam dropped 14% to 65% and Inanda Dam from 92% to 68%.

Saws forecaster Metja Thema said they predict 20-30 mm of rain on Sunday and up to 70-80 mm on Monday for KZN.

However, the rain will be accompanied by severe thunderstorms due to three cold fronts making their way up the coastline from Cape Town.

Thema described the expected weather as a “big winter system” and said the rain may be accompanied by heavy snowfall in KZN.

Although drought-stricken residents and business owners can look forward to the rain, a stern warning has been issued by the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), urging all beachgoers to take “extreme caution” over the coming week.

The NSRI’s Craig Lambinon warned that severe storm conditions, strong gale force winds, rough seas and heavy sea swells coupled with the full moon Spring Tide will cause dangerous shoreline conditions over the next five to six days.

Lambinon urged boaters, paddlers, bathers, sailors and anglers to be cautious around the coast during these storm conditions.


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