DURBAN - KWAZULU-NATAL is not under threat of further heavy rain for the rest of the week, as the weather will start clearing from this afternoon, according to the South African Weather Service.
This is after most parts of the province, including the South and North coasts, Durban and Pietermaritzburg, experienced heavy rain which prompted evacuations in some parts and kept the emergency services busy throughout the weekend.
Weather forecaster Sandile Dlamini said there would be scattered showers in some parts of the province, including the central and northern parts, today, but the situation was set to improve.
“There is no threat of any rainfall from late Tuesday onwards,” said Dlamini, who explained that the heavy rains had been the result of a combination of a cut-off low system and a cold front that had come from the Western Cape.
“Weather systems are changing and are affecting the frequency of rains, not only in KZN, but the rest of the country,” the weather forecaster said.
He said it was important for members of the public to pay attention to warnings when they were issued.
According to University of KwaZulu-Natal lecturer on Climate Change, Professor Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi, the rains were a clear indication of changes in climatic conditions, which was a worldwide phenomenon.
“We are going to see a continuing shift in weather patterns. When normally early rainfall would be experienced in September, this will change.”
He added that this was already the case, as witnessed by the heavy rainfall of last month which resulted in flooding, and that of this past weekend.
“What we are observing now is that rainfall that would be expected in spring is delayed by a month, so in November – that is when we have started seeing rainfall that is associated with that season, and that is why it is raining in May, something that was not the case about five years ago,” said the academic.
He said that while it had rained in April and May, there was little likelihood the province would experience a wet winter similar to that of the Western Cape.
Mabhaudhi said it was important for institutions of higher learning to work together with governments in order to mitigate future disasters, adding that the recent experiences should be a lesson to everyone concerned of the need to work together.
“We have been working closely with eThekwini Municipality for a while now. This helps the city issue early warnings, and there is scope to work even closer in the future,” he said.
Meanwhile, the damage to soil caused by the recent floods and compounded by the weekend downpours will take decades to repair.
This is according to UKZN Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Professor Albert Modi. He said the soil was still damaged from the April floods.
He added that the soil in flood-affected areas had lost organic matter and carbon-based compounds.
“The continuous heavy rains washed away large carbons and chemical elements of the soil, and affected its ability to stick together. The floods caused an imbalance.”
Modi said that scientific and agricultural methods were vital moving forward, and that the government needed to consult scientists, engineers and town planners to implement strategies to replenish the soil.
“There is no short-term solution to repair the damage. Agriculture, science, and engineering need to work together with people to ensure that organic matter and soil carbon is retained.”
Modi said that education and scientific measures should be implemented before another natural disaster occurred.