Just when we thought that winter and our rainy season were over, the heavens opened on Friday and within a matter of hours Main Road in Hermanus was impassable due to a number of blocked drains that caused major flooding in the CBD.

The unexpected spring storm brought with it not only more than 135 mm of rain, measured from Friday to Monday, but gusting winds reaching speeds of up to 138 km/h were also measured in the Hermanus Ridge area.

In the process, the water level of the De Bos Dam rose by 8%, from 43% to 51%, said Deputy Director of Engineering and Planning, Hanré Blignaut. The rise in the level of the dam is, however, not enough to prevent the Level 3 water restrictions from coming into effect on 1 November in the Greater Hermanus area. According to the municipality, water restrictions will stay in place until the dam level has reached at least 70%.

The heavy rains have broken several records in the Overstrand. According to the rainfall statistics of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) dating back to 1947, the highest ever recorded rainfall in October was 157.5 mm in 1948. The past week’s rainfall of some 135 mm, as measured up to Monday afternoon, makes this the wettest October on record, coming in at 161 mm for the month. 

The rainfall measured in the first 28 days of the month is some 82% greater than the average of 51.1 mm for October, measured over the last 72 years. The lowest recorded rainfall in October was in 1972 when only 9.2 mm of rain fell.

For the year, in which we have had lower than normal rainfall, October has been the wettest month by far, followed by an also unseasonably high rainfall of 94.6 mm in March. The downpours of the past week have brought the rainfall for the year so far up to 542 mm against an annual average of 548 mm.

Johan Montgomery, viticulturist at Hamilton Russell Vineyards, says rain at any time of the year is always welcome and that the rain we get now assists in filling farm dams for the dry season that lies ahead.

“The buds and vines are all looking good and healthy and although there are fewer bunches on the vines than normal, it is predicted that the harvest this year will be on par with the last couple of years.

“We have also not seen any traces of fungus growth due to the wet conditions. What we do not need now, however, are hot days that will increase the humidity, as this will create the perfect conditions for fungal growth,” he said.

According to the South African Weather Service no more rain is forecast for the next week, with temperatures staying in the mid-teens to low twenties.

When it rains, it pours

Regarding the flooding in Hermanus Old Town, the municipality said in a statement that the tender for upgrades to the stormwater infrastructure of the Hermanus CBD and industrial area, as well as the revitalisation of High Street, is expected to be advertised and closed by mid-December 2019. “The supply chain management department will then proceed with their tender evaluation process and following the mandatory appeal process, the successful contractor is expected to be appointed in March 2020. Construction in the Hermanus Industrial Area is expected to commence in early April 2020, while the contractor will only be allowed to commence with construction in the CBD in May 2020, as agreed with the CBD Revitalisation Committee. The due date for completion is early December next year.”

Pictures of the rain and flooding posted on The Village NEWS Facebook groups and pages reached more than 250 000 people and were shared more than 1 450 times between Friday and Monday.

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