What's behind South Africa's flood disaster

Source(s): PhysOrg, Omicron Technology Ltd
Cars are lying in mud beneath a bridge in Durban, South Africa, after the floods in April 2022.

South Africa, the continent's most industrialised country, has largely escaped the tropical cyclones that regularly hit its neighbours.

But last week, storms pummelled the east coast  of Durban, triggering heavy floods and landslides that killed more than 440.


Meteorologists say the storms were not tropical.

Instead, the rains were part of a normal South African weather system called a "cut-off low" which can bring heavy rain and .

"Cut-off low pressure systems are common. Their frequency becomes high during autumn and spring seasons, and they are differing in strength," said Puseletso Mofokeng with the South African Weather Service.


If the storm system itself is a known phenomenon, the difference this time was the intensity of the the deluge.

Here, experts point the finger at —warmer seas charge the atmosphere with more moisture, which then gets dumped as rainfall.


Durban experiences floods every year, but not as severe as these. 

The city is built on a hilly area with many gorges and ravines—a topography that University of KwaZulu-Natal urban planner Hope Magidimisha-Chipungu says is conducive to floods.


Please note: Content is displayed as last posted by a PreventionWeb community member or editor. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of UNDRR, PreventionWeb, or its sponsors. See our terms of use

Is this page useful?

Yes No Report an issue on this page

Thank you. If you have 2 minutes, we would benefit from additional feedback (link opens in a new window).