La Niña may be weak this summer, but might result in localised flooding

SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

Although the expected La Niña may be weak this summer, South Africans should prepare themselves for possible localised flooding, a report released by the Department of Water and Sanitation warned.

La Niña is characterised by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, compared to El Niño, which is characterised by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific.

“Given the current condition of the veld cover (vegetation), we can expect increased levels of runoff even with a weak La Niña. The expected La Niña is very weak and trending towards neutral. Most key atmospheric variables continue to indicate neutral ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) conditions,” the report said.

The report warned the country of below normal rainfall and warm temperatures during spring.

However, the report noted that based on the seasonal outlook report by the South African Weather Services, the country had “very bleak weather prospects” on the weekend as a series of cold fronts zoomed across parts of the country that brought about a cold Sunday and some snowfalls over the south eastern parts of South Africa that was followed by some showers.

“There has been a falloff in average dam levels in all provinces with the exception of the Western Cape, where levels have increased by 34.2% over the past 13 weeks and are now at 62.1%. “

The department said it will continue to monitor the 211 dams on a weekly basis. Twelve dams are currently below 10%, 61 are below 40% and 20 dams are above 100%.

“Our national storage is under increasing stress and still shows a steady decline week on week. We need to continue to intensify the enforcement of restrictions to stretch our available water supplies,” the department said.

The department has also warned that the drought is far from over and even with a normal season, it will take a number of years for the system to stabilise.