16 March 2005

Rainfall as usual?

Near normal rainfall is predicted for most of the country for the coming winter period to the end of July, the South African Weather Service said on Tuesday.

"This excludes the northern interior," said meteorologist Lucky Ntsangwane.

He said there was a 65% chance that the current weak El Nino conditions - prevailing for the last five months - would last until April 2005.

"It's a small chance however that it would develop into a La Nina condition with above-normal rainfalls," Ntsangwane said in Bloemfontein.

The South African Weather Service released its seasonal forecast for winter in the Free State capital.

Ntsangwane told reporters that sea surface temperature patterns were showing that the weak El Nino was moving towards neutral conditions.

"This means that near normal rainfall conditions are most likely over most of country, which would bring relief for areas that grow winter crops," Ntsangwane said.

Dam levels in winter rainfall areas may rise owing to the expected normal rainfall.

The Weather Service said dam levels in Limpopo were however unlikely to increase over the coming months as lower than normal rainfall was likely in the region.

In the south-western Cape there was a 25% chance for a wet winter, bad news for a region battling water shortages.

Ntsangwane said on average temperatures are likely to be warmer than normal throughout the country.

"However, cold spells may occur in some parts from time to time."


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