In an early post I reported that we were going to enter a La Nina cycle of weather, (for more on this follow this link.) At the time the phenomina was expected to give us a wet end to the winter, which it did, heavy rain for the north of the country in the summer and- if it stays with us, the pattern should be for a dry winter in the Western Cape.
Certainly, world expert opinion seems to be that the phenomina will begin to weaken over the next few months, however, predictions are becoming increasingly difficult as the effects of global warming begin to add to natural cycles.
The long range weather predictions are stating that we are likely to see only 33% of our average rain fall through till April. At present this is what Disaster Risk Management are basing there decisions on, however, other agencies are claiming that June and July are likely to be severe- and they are claiming a 90% accuracy on that forecast. To date we are still waiting for the release of the longer range forecast from the Cape Town Airport Met station, which was predicting the dry autumn.
So, who to believe, and what can we do about it anyway?
In the Western Cape there are areas that should really fear the worst. People in Lainsburg well remember the tradgedy that occured there, and the Cape Flats are a miserable place to be if they flood, which they will if we get persistant heavy rain.
Our own part of the world is less prone to flooding, being mainly mountainous, however, it is likely that the township areas in Masiphumelele and Hout Bay will be less than pleasant in adverse weather.
There is nothing we can do to prevent it from raining this winter, and nearly as little to prevent flooding- nature has a way of making fools of our best attempts to keep out flood waters.
What we can do is limit the damage and deal with the aftermath as well as we can.
It sounds obvious, but I bet that most people don’t do anything about it until it is too late- clean your gutters out now, repair your roof while it is dry and make sure that water flows away where it is supposed to. Waiting to have that long due overhaul of your roof done until it is heaving down with rain is a bad move- the roofers are charging a primium because you have pans full of water in the lounge, and they can’t do the work anyway.
If for some reason you think that you might be sat on the roof with the water lapping your toes, waiting to be air lifted to safety, then you may feel a little better about life if you are safe in the knowledge that your insurance is up to date and covers you for flooding, also, it may be nice if all your irreplaceable photos and documents are in a water proof container, secured in a cupboard so they can’t float away.
Also, lets think about the people in our community who don’t have a solid roof over their heads. We sit in our brick houses with our strong, water proof roofs, behind our security fences and turn the heating up. Spare a thought for those who live in a rickety structure that wouldn’t stand up to a sneeze, let allow a full on storm. It must be cold, wet and miserable. These are the likely people who are going to find themselves under a few feet of water, and they are the once that will need the most help. Several charities operate in Masiphumelele, I am sure that the Living Hope Centre (021 785 5655 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and the Food Aid Programme (021 783 2807)would not turn away donations of old clothes, blankets and food.
Basically, we can predict what we want and we can prepare for the worst, but all we can really do when confronted by such a massive force of nature is deal with it as best we can. If the winter is dry, then we should use less water and make provision to store more water in the future. Should it turn out to be torrentially wet then all we can really do is hope that we don’t get washed away and mop up as best we can afterwards.
One thing is for certain, this is not the first La NIna to affect the Cape Peninsula and the Western Cape and it won’t be the last. She may be weaking know but big brother El Nino will be next, followed faithfully by little sis.