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Flood fears loom as rain lashes SA

27 December 2021 - 14:15
The SA Weather Service said widespread showers and thundershowers could be expected over much of SA. File image.
The SA Weather Service said widespread showers and thundershowers could be expected over much of SA. File image.
Image: 123RF/Surut Wattanamaetee

SA’s north-eastern areas can expect “disruptive rain” as wet conditions continued over much of the country on Monday.

The SA Weather Service said widespread showers and thundershowers could be expected over much of SA, while the south-west coast would see light rain.

“Severe thunderstorms are possible over the eastern interior of the Western Cape and  western parts of the Eastern Cape with disruptive rain over the north-east provinces,” it said.

A weather service graphic showed almost the entire country covered by rain ranging from scattered showers to severe thunderstorms.

Last week the forecaster said La Niña conditions were expected to continue during summer.

“The predictions for rainfall over the larger part of the country are for enhanced probabilities of above normal rainfall during January, February, March, April and May.”

Most of SA received normal to above normal rain during the spring season, the forecaster said.

“Good rainfall conditions continued into December with most of the country receiving above normal rainfall during the first 10 days of December.”

La Niña, “the girl”, is a weather pattern that occurs every few years in the equatorial belt region in the Pacific Ocean and is linked to wetter than usual summers in southern Africa while causing droughts in other parts of the world.

While the rains will ease any fears of drought, there are concerns more floods are expected along the Vaal and Orange rivers when the water department is compelled to open the sluice gates of dams already at maximum capacity.

Parys-based adventure tour operator Graeme Addison said he feared a repeat of 2011 when the department waited too long before opening all the sluice gates at the Vaal Dam.

“It reached 120% before they let it all go and we had a flood,” he told TimesLIVE.

“The cost to downstream residents and businesses was incalculable. Weeks of evacuation, loss of pumps and facilities, some drownings.”

Addison urged water department minister to "take direct charge".

The flow of the Orange River is already sharply higher, Upington-based adventure and whitewater tour operator Craig Eksteen told TimesLIVE.

“We are told flow will be at 3,000 cubic metres per second by January,” he said, adding that the official numbers did not take into account flow from usually dry riverbeds that had flooded in recent storms.

“If the water department had been letting out 500 or 600 cubic metres a day, we wouldn’t be in this position,” he said.

TimesLIVE


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