KZN weather warnings Level 5

Flood waters ravage the streets of KZN, 12/4/2022 – Photo: Corne van Zyl / TheSouthAfrican

Were the KZN floods caused by climate change? The answer is complicated…

Weather records held for 60 years tumbled this week, during the KZN floods – but linking this event to climate change comes with caveats.

KZN weather warnings Level 5

Flood waters ravage the streets of KZN, 12/4/2022 – Photo: Corne van Zyl / TheSouthAfrican

The KZN floods have claimed an almighty death toll, with upwards of 45 people killed by the extreme weather conditions. Gushing torrents of water have destroyed homes and public infrastructure, and weather records have been shattered across the province. But were these weather conditions a direct result of climate change?

Severity of KZN floods raises serious questions

The SA Weather Service (SAWS) made a statement to the press earlier on Tuesday. Surveying the widespread damage caused by the KZN floods, the group revealed that more rain is forecast to make landfall during the Easter weekend. However, it won’t match the scale of the downpours witnessed in the past 48 hours.

The horrifying images of cars being swept away and buildings crumbling have led many to ask the fundamental question of our time: Are these disastrous conditions being caused by climate change? According to SAWS, the answer isn’t so black and white, and there’s no straightforward way to put it.

Did climate change cause the KZN floods?

The agency states that, although the KZN floods cannot be solely blamed on climate change, events LIKE this are happening more often because of it. In other words, global warming IS now intensifying the frequency of our extreme weather patterns – even if it didn’t directly cause the event itself.

We told you the answer would be complicated…

“As weather scientists, we cannot attribute individual weather events occurring on short timescales to longer-term events, occurring over years or decades. However, notwithstanding the above, we can state with confidence that globally all forms of severe and extreme weather are becoming more frequent and more extreme.”

“Things like heatwaves, heavy rain, and coastal storm surge events will happen more often. Therefore, events such as the current KZN incident can rightfully be expected to recur in the future and with increasing frequency.”

SAWS statement

KwaZulu-Natal weather forecast for Wednesday 13 April

Meanwhile, SAWS have confirmed that there will be more weather warnings in place for KZN overnight. The good news, however, is that these alerts will drop down from Level 9 to Level 6 – and conditions are set to improve.

  • Southern and Eastern parts of KZN – from Port Shepstone to Durban – will face more rain this evening.
  • More downpours are also expected in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Free State, Gauteng, and Eastern Cape.
  • Parts of the east coast between Port St. John’s and Durban face the possibility of Level 6 weather warnings for more rainfall overnight.
  • On Wednesday, further showers are expected in the aforementioned regions.
  • The good news is that the rain DOES ease off tomorrow, and NO weather warnings are in place for 13 April 2022.