'SA won’t see significant rainfall until autumn 2016'

Forecasters say global warming and the El Niño effect are likely to blame for the lack of rainfall in SA.

FILE: Rand Water and municipalities have urged consumers to conserve water saying the recent heatwave has put strain on bulk supply. Picture: Freeimages.com

JOHANNESBURG - As South Africa continues to experience high temperatures, forecasters say significant rainfall is only expected in autumn next year.

Rand Water and municipalities have urged consumers to conserve water saying the recent heatwave has put strain on bulk supply.

Forecasters say global warming and the El Niño effect are likely to blame for the lack of rainfall.

Environmental scientist Simon Gear says the last few months have been the warmest on record.

"Global warming has clearly taken hold and so the last three or four month have been among the warmest on record. Combined with that we have the strongest El Niño signal that we've had since the 1940s."

Principle researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research professor Francois Engelbrecht says usually El Niño events are associated with below normal rainfall.

"That means the December to February period particularly is associated with below normal rain or even drought during El Niño year."

South African Weather Service Cobus Cronje says the lack of significant rainfall is expected to last until next year.

"We can say that we are experiencing below normal rainfall and this season is expected to last into autumn next year. This is what the long range is indicating."

KZN DECLARED DISASTER AREA

Meanwhile, government has declared KwaZulu-Natal a disaster area in the midst of the worst drought to hit the country in almost two decades.

Other areas include Limpopo and the North West.

Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti, joined by his counterparts Lindiwe Zulu and Senzeni Zokwana, briefed the media this morning.

They were giving an update on the National Development Plan and Vision 2030 in Parliament today.

Apart from the high unemployment rate, Nkwinti said the decline in farming output is a concern.

"Within the next week, we're not expecting any significant rainfall. If anything, we are expecting some slight showers towards the end of the weekend, into early next week but nothing significant. And nothing in the quantities that we would like to see at this time of year."