Last year confirmed as SA’s driest on record


More than 100 years' worth of rainfall data collected by SA Weather Service (SAWS) stations and volunteer observers has revealed that 2015 was the driest year on record for South Africa.
This is according to Elsa de Jager, manager of the SAWS Climate Information Unit. De Jager says they have recently looked into readings dating back to 1904 and concluded that last year was significantly drier than average:
"The total (rainfall) was about 403mm, compared to the 608mm that is normally expected for South Africa on average."
This means South Africa only had about two thirds of its average rainfall in the 2015 calendar year from January to December.
The data also shows that South Africa has had below average rainfall since 2012. This is one of the few phases that the country has had so many consecutive years of below average rainfall. 
The longest consecutive dry period was the six years from 1944 to 1949, where annual averages ranged from 437mm to 582mm per annum. There was also a period of four consecutive dry years from 1930 to 1933. 
The final of these periods is the current cycle that began in 2012. The SAWS said in its report that although 2015 has been the driest year on record, the drought in the 1930s may still be the driest consecutive period in South Africa.
De Jager has meanwhile also praised the efforts of volunteer observers. She says these are people who collect readings daily and provide these to SAWS on a monthly basis.
She says SAWS does have records at certain stations dating back even further than 1904 but says the data was too limited to compile an average for the entire country. –  Sabrina Dean