Disaster Declaration Issued As Deadly Flooding Continues In South Africa

Intense rains in South Africa have caused severe flooding that has killed people and destroyed local infrastructure

<p>This aerial view shows floods of the Umbeluze river overflowing due to heavy rains in the Boane district of Maputo on February 11, 2023. ALFREDO ZUNIGA/AFP via Getty Images)</p>

Intense rainfall in South Africa has led to widespread flooding in the country, causing fatalities as well as damaging local homes and infrastructure.

Officials in South Africa stated Tuesday that the flooding has killed at least 12 people, claiming lives in four of the country’s nine provinces. The hardest-hit of all provinces thus far has been Mpumalanga, in the northeastern part of the country and not far from the Mozambique border.

Rainfall totals over the past five days have been enormous, with some locally higher amounts of over 12 inches (310 mm (1.02 feets)) reported. The normal amount of rainfall in February for the country is around 4 inches.

A man looks on from a squatter camp on the edge of the Jukskei river by Alexandra township after heavy rainfall, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023. THEMA HADEBE/AP PHOTO

Mpumalanga is home to Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s largest game reserves, which has been “badly affected” by the heavy rains, according to disaster management officials. People staying at several camps inside the reserve were forced to evacuate due to flooding, as the rivers that cross through Kruger were swollen by the torrential rainfall.

“Movement inside the park is restricted as some roads are damaged,” Isaac Phaahla, spokesperson for South Africa’s national parks authority SANParks, told AFP News.

Due to the flooding, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster on Monday, giving the government additional powers for an intensive response. A statement from the office of the presidency said that national police and defense forces may be called upon to aid with the wide-ranging impacts.

Flooding, particularly in the eastern part of the country, was caused by a stalled cold frontal boundary that brought repeated rounds of showers and thunderstorms. The climate pattern La Niña over South Africa played a role in the rainfall’s intensity, favoring above-normal precipitation in the country.

A view of Alexandra Township after rainfall, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023. THEMA HADEBE/AP PHOTO

“Moisture levels in the atmosphere tend to be a little higher than usual during a La Niña, so if a wet pattern develops, as we saw recently, the potential for heavy rainfall is higher,” AccuWeather Senior Commodity Meteorologist Dale Mohler said.

And South Africa’s rainfall troubles are far from over, Mohler explained.

“The weather forecast for the remainder of this week is troubling, as there will be additional scattered downpours over the flooded region,” he said. “By the end of this week, much of this area will have another 1-2 inches of rain.” Mohler added that next week will be “more promising” with dry weather and sunshine in the forecast.


Produced in association with AccuWeather.