THE Victoria Falls has so far reached its highest flow in a decade in a powerful display of breath-taking beauty and intensity, which ironically has no one to witness as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
BY CHARLES LAITON
Zambezi River Authority public relations and communications manager Elizabeth Karonga said the high water levels in the mighty Zambezi River were due to a significant increase in both rainfall and run-off in the catchment area upstream of Victoria Falls during the rainy season.
The authorities said official data shows that four times more water is now flowing over the world’s largest waterfall than at this time last year.
On April 20, 2020, at least 3 922 cubic metres per second was recorded compared to 1 007 cubic metres per second on the same date in 2019.
“The flow at the Victoria Falls from the second flood is expected to peak by end of April at more than 4 300 cubic metres per second,” Karonga said.
“The flows at the Victoria Falls have not been this high since 2010, when they were slightly higher; they were also higher in 2009 and 1978, but the highest flows ever recorded were in 1958 when the peak flow reached an incredible 9 436 cubic metres per second.”
Karonga added: “The Zambezi River normally experiences two peaks or floods, which are more evident in the upper catchment area, upstream of Victoria Falls and depending on their magnitude, their effects are translated downstream.”
She said the first wave of floodwaters was recorded on March 31, 2020 with a peak flow of 4 289 cubic metres per second, and the second reached the falls on April 14 and water levels were, again rising.
In the coming weeks, Karonga said, the rise in flows at the Victoria Falls will continue until the rainfall upstream subsides.
However, the falls are expected to peak at the end of May this year.
Hospitality group Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) chief executive Ross Kennedy, said: “It has been quite some time since anyone witnessed the majesty and intensity of this level of water flowing over the Victoria Falls, with the last period of such floods being ten years ago.
“What a sad and disappointing irony it is, that at this time one of the seven natural wonders of the world is at its absolute finest. The world is in lockdown and very few if any will get to witness or experience this iconic destination in all its splendour.”
Africa Albida Tourism operates a number of properties in Victoria Falls, which include Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, as well as Victoria Falls Safari Club, Victoria Falls Safari Suites, Lokuthula Lodges and The Boma – Dinner and Drum Show.
The Victoria Rainforest is closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.