By Riaan Marais
The drought-stricken Eastern Cape could finally receive some much-needed relief with heavy downpours and a severe cold front expected to hit the province today and tomorrow.
However, it may be too soon to celebrate, with forecasters warning that there needs to be at least 50mm of rain at a time in the catchment areas for it to have any meaningful impact on storage dam levels supplying Nelson Mandela Bay with water.
Heavy rains 10 days ago made no significant difference to the dams, which are rapidly running out of water.
The good news is that weather guru Garth Sampson, Weather SA’s Port Elizabeth spokesman, says it should rain in the catchment areas.
But while welcome, the wet, cold front is also expected to present serious challenges.
Farmers have been warned to brace for low temperatures and to keep their livestock sheltered if the temperatures drop substantially.
Emergency services are on high alert in the Bay, which can expect more than 35mm of rain and temperatures dipping below 10°C.
Roads prone to flooding in the metro, like the Third Avenue dip in Newton Park, will be closely monitored and closed if needed.
Snowfalls could lead to road closures in places like the Loots berg and Wa pads berg passes, as well as disruptions along roads north of Queenstown.
According to Weather SA, the cold front was moving into the region overnight, bringing the rain as well as snow in the high-lying and mountainous regions of the province today and tomorrow. It is expected to move further east to East London and beyond by Friday.