During the month of November, there is always much speculation over how much water is flowing over the Victoria Falls – especially so this year, after a particularly long dry season. In this post, we try and answer some of these questions on the highs and lows of Victoria Falls.
How is the Water Flow over the Falls Measured?
The Zambezi River Authority was established in 1987 and is the body that monitors water flow along the Zambezi River to Kariba, through its hydrometric network. There are thirteen stations along the river where water levels are monitored daily – one being the Victoria Falls/ Big Tree station.
What are the Annual Variations of Water Flow?
In Victoria Falls, there is the high water season from March to May when the Falls is at the highest and the low water season from September to December when the Falls are at their lowest. How much water is flowing over the Victoria Falls is due to the rainfall in the catchment areas further upstream in Zambia, Angola and Botswana.
If you take a look at our sunrise series videos from 2019, you can tell the difference in water flow during high and low water season. Here is a comparison between April and November 2019.
April Sunrise 2019
November Sunrise 2019
What do the Historical Records say?
The maximum flow recorded at Victoria Falls was during the early construction phase of Kariba Dam in March 1958 at 10,000 cubic metres per second. The lowest flows recorded to date at Victoria Falls were during the 1995/96 season which had an annual mean flow of 390 cubic metres per second, whereas the Long Term Mean Annual flow at Victoria Falls is 1,100 cubic metres per second.
This year has been one of the driest on record, but not the lowest as the water flow was an estimated 3cm higher than the lowest level recorded back in 1995. As you can see from the table below, the water level has started to rise with the first rains, and this trend should continue for the rest of the season.