KZN dam levels remain low despite snow

2016-09-19 10:01
Guests enjoy hemselves in the snow at Sani Mountain Lodge on Sunday.

Guests enjoy hemselves in the snow at Sani Mountain Lodge on Sunday. (pietermaritzburg snow)

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A thick layer of snow on the higher peaks on Sunday created a scenic landscape in the Drakensberg and hope for Midlands farmers looking forward to snow-melt filling their farm dams, but the city’s main dams all remain less than half full.

Heavy snow fell at Sani Pass and in Lesotho and Bulwer Mountain, not far from Pietermaritzburg, was covered in a white layer.

Rain, cold and misty weather conditions gripped the entire province this weekend with the South African Weather Bureau issuing a flood warning for some areas.

Weather forecaster Lebogana Mashile said on Sunday a significant amount of rainfall was measured on Saturday, with 42,2 mm of rainfall measured in the Virginia area alone and 20 mm along the coastline.

But the catchment areas did not report significant rain to help refill Umgeni Water’s dams and the city’s water supply system remains caught in the worst drought in 80 years.

Midmar dam is 46% full and Albert Falls is three-quarters empty at 25%.

Mashile said the skies should clear early this week. “We can just expect some light rain early [on Monday] but we are expecting to it clear up through the day,” she said.

Carol Hill from Ashtonvale Guest Farm, which featured on the Snow Report website, said they noticed snow covering Bulwer Mountain on Sunday morning but the rain was slowly melting it away.

“The snow fell through the night but it has been raining since then so I don’t think we will see more snow now,” Hill said.

Underberg resident John Pearce said the area had experienced very cold weather but no snow. “We did have some nice rain though,” he said.

Dargle farmer Robin Barnsley said the rain was very welcome as the drought has caused much suffering for farmers but more is needed.

“Although the rain is no drought-breaker, it is still definitely welcome. It has been so dry that any rain will help but I doubt there has been any run-off resulting from this rain so our dam levels will remain low,” Barnsley said.

He said the rain that has so far fallen has seen the land “greening up”.

A staff member at Cathedral Peak Hotel, Sanele Luvuno, said their guests were enjoyed looking at the snow on the Berg from afar on Sunday, as everyone remained indoors due to extreme cold, mist and rain.

Netcare’s Chris Botha reported a rescue in the Berg on Sunday.

Netcare 911 advanced life support paramedics, Nsele ambulance service and the Emzemvelo game rangers undertook a three-hour hike into Giants Castle to treat a pupil who had fallen ill during an excursion.

“The rescue team met up with the school party and after the boy was stabilised, they made a decision to walk him out due to the falling light and weather conditions,” Botha said. He was then taken to hospital by ambulance.

The rainy and misty weather was a significant contributing factor to accidents on KZN’s roads this weekend.

A female passenger died at the Amanzimtoti river bridge after the vehicle she was in crashed into the barrier wall.

The driver was unharmed, but the woman was declared dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.

In another incident in Amanzimtoti, a bakkie veered off the wet highway and plunged into the river several metres below.

Botha said the driver of the bakkie was rushed to hospital by private transportation but the “twisted frame” of the vehicle was found partly submerged in the river.

Also in Amanzimtoti, the driver of a bakkie was killed when the vehicle hurtled across the median and overturned several times.

Botha said the male driver was ejected from the bakkie and thrown for about 50 metres, landing in the northbound lane. He died before paramedics arrived on the scene.

The vehicle was found in the bush 200 metres away.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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