Unfortunately, the hope that the recent widespread rain across South Africa’s summer rainfall region would put an end to widespread water-constrained and drought conditions, seems to be shattered.
This followed a preliminary weather forecast for the December 2019 to April 2020 summer season in a Seasonal Climate Watch issued recently by the South African Weather Service (SAWS), which indicated that there were “enhanced probabilities of below-normal rainfall over the north-eastern and southern parts of the country” for this period.
“With regard to temperatures, mostly higher than normal temperatures are expected this summer over most of South Africa, with the exception of the far south-western part,” the Seasonal Climate Watch added.
In recent weeks, many parts of the country’s summer rainfall region had been hit by a combination of both extreme heat and heavy and often destructive downpours. In a statement, the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, said that despite the heavy rain, South Africans needed to continue saving water because the country was “not out of the woods yet” in terms of its water availability challenges.
Sisulu’s spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau, told Farmer’s Weekly that if SAWS’s preliminary Seasonal Climate Watch proved accurate, “I think that we will end up in a worse situation than we are in now”.
DWS’s weekly dam levels
The DWS’s weekly dam levels, on an average provincial level basis, for the week ending 2 December stood at 48% for the Eastern Cape (61% last year); 67% for the Free State (79% last year); 89% for Gauteng (95% last year); 53% for KwaZulu-Natal (56% last year); 49% for Limpopo (60% for last year); 56% for Mpumalanga (67% for last year); 54% for North West (53% last year); 72% for the Northern Cape (74% last year); and 65% for the Western Cape (60% last year).
Average dam levels for Lesotho, which supplied large volumes of water to South Africa, stood at 21% (35% last year) for this period. The DWS reported that South Africa’s average national dam levels for this period the, with Lesotho included, was 58% (67% last year).