For the Lake St Lucia Estuary, the current total rainfall for July to date is 312.9 mm. According to the Park records, this is the highest figure ever recorded since record-keeping began in 1971. The closest figure was 261 mm measured in 2011.
“While the rain was mostly coastal, it has come just in time to recharge pans and water systems, bringing much needed relief at the hard end of the lowest rainfall year in 65 years,” says Andrew Zaloumis, CEO of iSimangaliso.
The spillway from the uMfolozi and Msunduze into the Lake St Lucia Estuary is flowing well and water levels in the Estuary have risen by 20cm so far. Fresh water continues to pour into the Estuary, boosting efforts by iSimangaliso and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to restore the system.
The uMfolozi River has been flowing from local rains around Mtubatuba, into the Estuary, and the Lake level at the St Lucia bridge had risen by 37 cm this morning.
Standing water in the Eastern and Western Shores sections of the Park is in abundance, and at Catalina Bay, the Lake is looking fuller than it has all year. Even the beaches are looking like wetlands, thanks to heavy coastal rain and pounding seas.
At Sodwana Bay, hail fell at around 06h00 today and an estimated 30-40mm of rain has fallen so far.
“The best news of all,” says Zaloumis, “is that after a very light start, uMkhuze finally received a solid downpour this morning and is still raining. The rain arrived just in time as the uMkhuze section of iSimangaliso had only two days of water left and we had started to truck drinking water into uMkhuze for the game.”
As of 08h00, this morning, iSimangaliso received the following figures (taken from the start of the rainfall on Saturday 23rd July in the southern parts of the Park):
St Lucia Estuary: 217mm
Manzengwenya (Coastal Forest): 80mm
Charters Creek: 110mm
Mission Rocks: 102mm
Kosi Bay: 29mm
False Bay: 52mm
uMkhuze: 22mm (mostly in the past few hours and still raining)