Columbia University's International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society's global weather forecast for June, July and August (Screenshot)
  • The International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society at Columbia University has upgraded its expectation for rainfall in SA's drought-stricken Western Cape province. It now sees a higher likelihood for 'above normal' rainfall during June, July and August. 
  • The IRI previously predicted below to near-normal rainfall for the same period. 

The International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society at Columbia University has just released its latest rainfall predictions, and there may be good news for the drought-stricken Western Cape.

In March, the IRI predicted that the province was most likely to receive "below to near normal rainfall" in May, June and July.

But this week, the IRI upgraded its forecast for June, July and August. It now estimates that it is most likely that the province will see “above normal” rainfall in this period - as opposed to normal or below normal rainfall. There is a 45% chance of above normal rainfall, the IRI estimates.

If the IRI estimates are anything to go by, the Western Cape province could receive good showers this winter season, said agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo. But while increased rainfall is encouraging, short-term forecasts for the rest of May remain unfavourable, he added. 

“This could potentially slow the winter crop planting process, currently underway in most parts of the province,”  Sihlobo wrote in a blog post.  

In March, the South African Weather Service also forecasted increased rainfall for the Western Cape

The Western Cape would furthermore experience above normal temperatures, the weather service said. 

A rainfall probability map by the South African Weather service (screenshot)

The Western Cape is currently battling its worst drought in 100 years. 

Day Zero, the day when the city’s taps would run dry, was estimated to occur in April, but was successfully avoided when residents drastically reduced water consumption. 

READ: How Cape Town avoided Day Zero and cut its water usage by 50% in 3 years - it took Melbourne 12 years to do the same

On Monday, the City’s dam levels stood at 21,4% - 0.1% below water supply level on the same day in 2017.

“This is an incredible achievement of water saving by the people of Cape Town, given that the dam levels at the start of the year were at 31% compared to 46% last year,” deputy mayor Ian Neilson said in a statement

“As Cape Town has shown the rest of South Africa and the world already, we are capable of meeting challenges head-on and pulling together to do what is required.” 

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