The iconic Victoria Falls has reached its highest flows in a decade in a powerful display of breathtaking beauty and intensity, but no-one is there to witness it.
The Victoria Falls rainforest was closed as Zimbabwe is in lockdown to mitigate the spreading of the coronavirus.
The Zambezi River Authority public relations and communications manager, Elizabeth Karonga, said the high water levels were due to a significant increase in both rainfall and run-off in the catchment area upstream of the falls during the current rainfall season.
Data from the authority shows that four times more water was now flowing over the world’s largest waterfall than at this time last year. On April 20, 3,922 cubic metres per second was recorded compared to 1 007 cubic metres per second on April 20, 2019.
“The Zambezi River normally experiences two peaks or floods, which are more evident in the upper catchment area, upstream from Victoria Falls, and depending on their magnitude, their effects are translated downstream,” Karonga said.
The first wave of floodwater was recorded at Victoria Falls on March 31, with a peak flow of 4 289 cubic metres per second, and the second reached the Victoria Falls on April 14. Water levels were again rising, Karonga said.
The flow at the Victoria Falls from the second flood was expected to peak by end of April at more than 4 300 cubic metres per second, she said.
The flows 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, she said.
In the coming weeks, the rise in flows at the falls would continue until the rainfall upstream subsides, leading to a reduction in the Zambezi River flows, and subsequently reduced flows at the falls.
The falls were expected to peak at the end of May this year.
Ross Kennedy, the chief executive of Zimbabwean hospitality group Africa Albida Tourism, said nature continued to show off her power and influence.
“At a time when the world is in trouble, the Zambezi River and the Victoria Falls display immense beauty, rugged power and a glorious snub to the current negatives,” 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 10 years ago.
“What a sad and disappointing irony it is, that at this time that 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,” he said. African News Agency (ANA)