REPORT 29 January 2017

The Western Cape had a welcome spell of rain on Friday morning early, with some areas measuring 25mm and others in the Northern parts less. This is the first rain since New Year, and definitely not enough to make a measurable difference to the Cape Peninsula’s storage dams. As of this coming Tuesday, the City of Cape Town will place a ban on all watering of gardens for longer than an hour, and then only on Tuesday and Saturdays, before 9am or after 6pm. No potable water may be used to wash cars, and of course, the use of hosepipes is already prohibited.

Countrywide, the news is not very good this week either. Most provinces have dams at more or less the levels as they were last week, but Eastern Cape, KZN, and Western Cape all have lower levels than last year.

In KwaZulu Natal, Keith ZS5WFD advises us that the Albert Falls Dam’s water level has fallen to 26.1% of full as of last week. So, although large parts of the Midlands have had regular rainy spells, and some of their dams are filling up, the Department of Water and Sanitation has taken a decision to impose restrictions to the greater Umgeni River system, since domestic, industrial and commercial consumers have been unable to achieve a 15% reduction in usage, and farming and irrigation use not reduced by 50%. Restrictions were reduced during the holiday season because of the influx of visitors over Christmas. A blanket reduction of 15% is thus now in place, as of 2 weeks ago. The areas of EThekweni directly or indirectly supplied by a chain of reservoirs all stemming from the Mount Moriah reservoir are thus experiencing water cuts between 9pm and 4am, seven days a week. This is a very serious situation, and we hope that all parts of the summer rainfall area in KZN will get enough rain to refill all these systems before winter.

Wherever you live in the country, please be very considerate of the parlous state of our water supplies, and waste nothing!

HAMNET members are reminded again, of their need to update their membership details on the portal on the HAMNET website, < >. Click on the portal tab at the top right, enter your call sign and start the process of getting Chad ZS6OPS to send you a temporary password you can use to change or update your details, before saving the info to the portal. If you choose not to do this update, you will be lost to HAMNET, because the hardcopy database previously held by ZS1TR has been phased out.

Interesting news off the Sun is the arrival of the first sunspot that belongs to Cycle 25. When the new cycle starts the sunspots demonstrate opposite polarity to the sunspots of the previous cycle. Thus it is that the first reversed polarity sunspot group was spotted in the Southern Hemisphere of the Sun last week, to the West (or right) of the midline, and busy disappearing off the edge of the Sun. Before you get all excited and rush off to test the bands, please realise that cycle 24 doesn’t stop suddenly, and cycle 25 start dramatically. There is a considerable overlap, and it may be years before cycle 25 is anything to be proud of. However, we desperately need a bit of optimism these days – the bands are that poor. Near Vertical Incidence propagation charts this week suggest that you will not manage intermediate distance communications on anything but the 80metre  band. The Solar Flux yesterday was 80, but the planetary A index was 20 for the previous 24 hours, the K index at that moment 2, and the geomagnetic field unstable, because of a solar wind stream passing by. If we were further from the equator, we might see Auroras by night.

The World Health Organisation has issued its annual pre-flu season encouragement to people to take flu vaccines before winter. They say:

“The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get the flu vaccine every year, before influenza season begins, although getting vaccinated at any time during the influenza season can still help prevent flu infections.

Getting the flu shot is especially important for those most at risk: pregnant women, children younger than 5 years, people older than 65 years, people with chronic medical conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, asthma, heart and lung diseases and diabetes, and people with increased risk of exposure to influenza, which includes health care workers.

Influenza viruses evolve constantly. Twice a year WHO makes recommendations to update the vaccine compositions in an effort to match the most common virus types circulating in humans at that time.” End quote.

And while we’re encouraging people to do things, may I please encourage you, being members of the SARL,  quickly to seize the bull by the horns and nominate one of the retiring SARL Councillors or someone else in your area to a post on the Council of the SARL, before Tuesday the 31st January. HAMNET can make more of a difference to the lives of the people of South Africa and our fellow radio amateurs, if we have Councillors who are kindly disposed towards HAMNET.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

REPORT 22 January 2017

Bad weather continues to plague Europe, and National Emergency Communications coordinators have been reporting in with their details.

Michal SP9XWM says that they started specific weather monitoring 2 weeks ago in Poland, as severe snowfalls started. Networks will be implemented as weather deteriorates. Critical storm weather conditions in coastal areas occurred twice last week.

In Italy Alberto IK1YLO notes that the weather situation in Central to Southern Italy is  very severe, as snow and very low temperatures are experienced.  Communications capabilities are good with no problems experienced. But, after this report came through, Italy was struck by 9 earthquakes of magnitude 4.5 or more on 18 January, and the avalanche we saw reported on, which engulfed a winter hotel and saw many casualties and lives lost.

From Germany, Michael DJ9OZ reports orange warning alerts of very low -15 degree temperatures, a thick layer of snow, some if it banked high by winds of up to 95 km per hour on high mountains in the Black Forrest area.

And in Essex, England, Essex RAYNET was officially notified last Thursday the 12th by Tendring District Council, via the Essex Civil Protection and Emergency Management Team that RAYNET’s support was required due to severe weather warnings in the area. Straight away, Essex RAYNET were en-route to Tendring and, within a few hours, a Control station was operational at Tendring District Council’s Emergency Response Centre in Weeley. Cross-band (2m/70cm) repeaters were active to cover the local area, as well as county-wide for other members of Essex RAYNET.

The group’s primary involvement was to support Tendring District Council, who were coordinating the evacuation of a potential 2,500 residents from Jaywick. Four locations were activated to provide coverage. Essex RAYNET members were deployed to each location making use of a cross-band repeater for robust communication back to Control at the council offices in Weeley. Through the use of cross-band 2m/70cm repeaters, most of the comms could comfortably be achieved using 5 watt handhelds.

In the run-up to an expected tidal surge, most of the effort from the emergency services involved contacting the residents, with police knocking on over 2,000 doors, leafleting residents and messaging via the media, preparing to evacuate the most vulnerable to a rest centre. Fortunately, the tidal surge and the next two high tides turned out to be less severe than expected, and the Raynet members were able to stand down on Friday evening the 13th, after a 40 hour operational involvement.

Thankfully, most of the Western Cape’s severe fires have now been brought under control. Gale-force winds and extremely hot conditions in the Cape have made fire-fighting very difficult, but we know our gales signify your rainfall in the Summer rainfall area, so are content in that knowledge. The fire-fighting teams have been very thinly stretched, some of the firemen working without rest for most of their 24 hour shifts. Local communities have been very generous in their donations of sustenance to the firemen. The most damage to property seems to have been in the Paarl area, where centuries-old farmsteads and large tracts of land under vines or orchards have been destroyed in the blazes.

The situation in our dams around the country, apart from the Western Cape, continue to improve. On average the percentage increase this week compared to last, is 2%, while the Western Cape’s dams have decreased by 2%. The Western Cape’s dams will keep us supplied with drinking water for another 100 days, unless it starts to rain, and rains well. The closer we get to our danger levels, the more stringent will become our restrictions, and it is expected that we will soon be banned completely from watering our gardens. For all to whom this applies, please do everything in your power to use saved water from washing or kitchen usage over and over again, before watering essential parts of your garden with it. Please let no drop of water disappear down the drain unused.

Some of HAMNET Western Cape’s members attended a “think-tank” afternoon yesterday afternoon, to discuss and solve if possible, some of the division’s problems that were raised during the end of 2016 ten-question-survey issued by Grant ZS1GS, the Regional Director. Grant had sent out a list of the accumulated answers to his ten questions previously, and asked those attending to give the responses some thought with a view to planning the training and meeting format for the coming year. The general consensus of opinion seemed to be that more attention needs to be given to the usage of digital communications in emergency situations than is currently the case, and all forms of training or teaching, whether it be in communications, or straightforward advice over antennas, cabling, reusable power options, and suitable radios to own or use, should be encouraged. Unexpected requests to call in on an Emcomm frequency should also be experimented with, to find out who is able to respond, and how quickly.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa. Continue reading

Rescue – 16 January 2017

At 1745 on 16 Jan 2017, a call went out for a patient fallen approximately 10 metres at Lakeside Pinnacle near caves. Jason (ZS1ZW) was activated, and joined by Brian (ZS1BTD) a little later. Initial hope was to use Skymed, but this option was not available due to winds.

On arrival (1835), Cape Medical Response controller was temporary IC, having been the one that made the call to Metro. Based on the urgency of the patient injury, and having ascertained from the locals that the walk up was not technical, he had despatched 2 of his members (ILS) along with 2 Muizenberg Fire and Rescue personnel to the patient. They reached the patient as I arrived, and gave initial assessment – Broken femur, degloving, and facial scrapes and bruises. 16 year old male, with 3 accompanying family members.

Metro 1 arrived 1838, as did initial MCSA volunteers. Metro medics departed 1842 as hasty team, followed shortly by technical rescuers advance party to determine extraction requirements. Both parties arrived at PT at 1855

Descent commenced approx. 1950, through the various belay points, and reached the road at 2043 where the CMR vehicle A2 was waiting to accept. The patient was transferred by road to Melomed Tokai.

During the final stages of the descent, the road was closed by local NHW members for safety, as well as the possibility of dislodged rocks.

All team members off mountain approx. 2110, debriefed and stood down 2135

The rescue was attended by HAMNET, MCSA, CMR, Muizenberg Fire and Rescue, Hikers Network and METRO personnel. Excluding CMR and Fire, there were 24 responders, a remarkable turnout.

Rescue – 13 January 2017

At around 20:10 on 13 January, a call was put out for a party of hikers that were stranded on top of Table Mountain. Due to the weather conditions the cable car had suspended operations and the hikers were stranded without lights and warm clothing. A team was sent to asses them while they slowly made their way down. Ian Stanbridge (ZS1OSK) responded to assist with communications from Metro1. The patients were reached and assessed where they were treated for hypothermia and assisted further down the mountain.

The stand down was given around 22:00 after a debriefing and the patients went on their way in private transport.

REPORT 15 January 2017

HAMNET South Africa would like to welcome our new SARL Office Administrator Kelley Heslop to her post, and wish her many happy days of interaction with all us crazy folks, as we go about playing radio, and being of service to the community. We hope we don’t drive you mad, Kelly!

Things are looking up a bit, as far as dam levels around the country are concerned. All provinces have recorded higher dam levels this week compared to last week, except the Eastern Cape which is static, and the Western Cape, whose levels have dropped by 2% since last week. Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West and Northern Cape dams are all now fuller than this time last year, which is most reassuring.

Sadly, the Western Cape has been battling huge fires this week, with large tracts of land and some properties in the Helderberg and Grabouw area devastated, and around Simonstown, where a huge fire broke out dramatically on Wednesday.  This resulted in road closures, large scale evacuation of suburbs, and even herding of baboon troops away from the fires, while small animals like buck, tortoises and snakes were rescued and released elsewhere. Fifty horses were moved from Glencairn stables. Rumours of arsonists seen starting the fires abound, as the authorities investigate their causes.

Meanwhile, over Europe, Emergency communicators are preparing for bad weather, with very low temperatures, storms, snow and potential floods.

Greg Mossop, G0DUB says that RAYNET groups in the UK have been either active or on standby for the last few days to deal with the effects of flooding on the East coast of the country. He has also seen on Twitter that some ADRASEC groups in France have been ready to respond to the weather conditions and now, through Facebook, a notice that 330 000 homes in France have lost their electricity supplies.

Snow and ice have extended down to Greece, and Adrian YO3HJV says that, in Romania, they had heavy snow and Orange Codes for very low temperatures during the week, but no severe alerts were issued for them (RVSU), so they only had to pass routine type traffic.

In some counties there were Red Codes for snow and freezing weather but fortunately, in big cities, the schools were closed. Also in the Eastern counties of Romania, almost all roads were closed during Orange and Red Codes for severe weather, so there were no significant problems.

They had some warnings issued for potential power failures in some areas from the National Electric Energy Company for the next few days but they are prepared for that. There are also some severe alerts issued for the next week but there is no confirmation yet. They are using this relatively warm weekend to prepare for the worst.

In anticipation, in Bucharest,  they started a Winlink2000 gateway on UHF and a very wide area digipeater, which is heard consistently in Bulgaria and can pass information through LZ digipeaters up to the extreme South West of Romania.

They mainly use Office 365 for routine traffic and have issued some training videos to their members on how to set up and use RMS Express as the tool of choice for Emcomm in RVSU.

Thank you Adrian for that insert.

For a way of dealing with another type of fire, a new smartphone app could help smokers stick to their New Year’s resolutions to quit smoking.

Cigbreak Free works like a regular smartphone game, with players having to complete tasks to progress through levels and gain rewards. However, it also incorporates a combination of 37 behavioural change techniques designed to help smokers quit. Some of the techniques are so subtly embedded in the game, that the player will be unaware of their presence. The app also includes a quit journal where users can calculate how much money they are saving.

Games creation processes lecturer Hope Caton, who was involved in the design of the app, said: “The good thing about a smartphone gaming app is that you can play it anywhere. Craving is a short-term thing, so if you get a craving at 11am, you can play the game in the warm until it passes, rather than going out into the cold for a cigarette. You’ve also got something to do with your hands other than smoke.”

The app will be coming to Android and iPhone platforms.

HAMNET in the Western Cape is looking forward to a busy first quarter of the year, with several sporting events up ahead. The first is the el Shaddai sponsored 99er Cycle Tour which happens on the 11th February outside the Durbanville area. We will be providing 18 operators for that event, including APRS tracking of rovers and ambulances. A week later, we will assist at the Lions Journey for Sight and Service on 19th February, also a cycle tour, and also requiring APRS tracking and about 7 operators.

Then, in March, we always assist at what used to be called the Cape Argus cycle tour, and now called the Cape Town Cycle Tour. We are not the primary communications organisation here, but usually assist Delta Search and Rescue by providing radio operators. And finally, over the Easter weekend, we support the medical division of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon on 15th April. Here we provide 16 operators, but use the City of Cape Town’s Tetra radio system, and a proprietary cell-tracking system, used in all the vehicles on the course. The organisation and planning of all four of these races is at an advanced stage, and all HAMNET members in the Western Cape are invited to volunteer their services for one or all of these events, by contacting me at

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

New Year Rescues

Members from HAMNET Western Cape were involved with a number of rescues over the festive period.

On the 1 January 2017, Matt Feinstein (ZS1MTF) responded to a call for a dehydrated patient on Platteklip Gorge. Matt secured the landing zone (LZ) at Kloofnek parking to allow Skymed 1 to operate in the area. The patient was extracted and taken to hospital.

On the 4 January, Jason Codd (ZS1ZW) and Phil Van Den Bossche (ZS1VCC), responded to a call for a patient that had fallen in the Elsie Peak area. This is located around the Fishoek are of Cape Town. A suitable LZ was sought and it was decide to hold this at the Fishoek Provincial Hospital as no other suitable area could be found. The call was only received quite late and the rescue crew had to operate quickly as the light was fading. It was decided to extract the patient with a screamer suit to allow for faster operations. At the same time a call for a patient in difficulty on Platteklip Gorge was received and Liz Southey (ZS1XS), Ian Stainbridge (ZS1OSK) and myself (ZS1GS) responded. This was Ian’s first call so we welcome him to the list of responders. The patient was walked out and brought down by the cable car and was taken away with private transport.

On the 8 January 2017, Ian (ZS1OSK) responded on his own to a call for assistance with a party of 5 requiring help. The party was made up of 2 adults and 3 children. They were mobile but were out of water and were uninjured. Ian manned Metro 1 at the Jeep Track and by sunset the party were safe off the mountain.

I wish to thank all the members involved throughout out the entire holiday period for their support and efforts. It is appreciated by myself and the management of Metro.

REPORT 8 January 2017

In a report from the website, it has been revealed that natural disasters including storms and earthquakes caused $175 billion of damage in 2016, the highest level since 2012, according to German reinsurance giant Munich Re.

While the year saw a two-thirds increase in the financial impact of catastrophes around the world, casualties from natural disasters were far lower in 2016 than the previous year, at 8,700 deaths compared with 25,400.

Munich Re pointed to two earthquakes on the Japanese island of Kyushu in April and floods in China in June and July as the most devastating natural events, inflicting costs of $31 billion in Japan and $20 billion in China.

North America suffered its largest number of disasters since 1980, at 160 events.

October’s Hurricane Matthew was the worst in the region, causing 550 deaths in Haiti alone as well as $10.2 billion of damage.

Meanwhile Canada battled wildfires in May after spring heat-waves and droughts, costing around $4 billion, while summer brought serious flooding in the southern US to the tune of $10 billion.

And a series of storms across Europe in late May and early June brought flood damage costing a total of $6 billion, with flooding hitting Germany especially badly as well as the French capital Paris.

The April earthquakes on the Japanese island of Kyushu were the most devastating natural events of 2016, inflicting costs of $31 billion in Japan, according to Munich Re

Overall, floods accounted for 34 percent of losses—an “exceptional” figure compared with the average of 21 percent in the last 10 years, Munich Re pointed out.

“A look at the weather-related catastrophes of 2016 shows the potential effects of unchecked climate change,” said Peter Hoeppe, head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research Unit.

But he noted that “individual events themselves can never be attributed directly to climate change.”

An example of the disasters quoted in the above report is the huge multi-fronted fire across Sir Lowry’s pass towards Grabouw in the Cape that has been raging since Tuesday. It is highly suspicious that 106 separate fires started in that 24 hours, and the likelihood of a natural cause for all of them is exceedingly slim.

A City of Cape Town report said that most were extinguished or contained before they could cause much damage, but a devastating mountain fire above Somerset West was still not fully under control, said JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security.

More than 120 firefighters, 12 fire engines and 10 water tankers battled the mountain vegetation fire on Tuesday and worked through the night on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, in a strong southeasterly wind.

“The fire is not yet completely under control. Aerial and ground crew operations are still under way in high-risk areas of the Helderberg basin,” Smith said.

The fire forced the closure of the N2 and Sir Lowry’s Pass in both directions between Grabouw and Sir Lowry’s Pass Road.

“The N2 to Grabouw has since been reopened, while the entrance into Sir Lowry’s Pass Village on the N2 is closed intermittently depending on smoky conditions.”

The road to Bezweni Lodge, which is below the affected mountain slope, remained closed.

There were also fires on the slopes of Table Mountain above Victoria Road in Llandudno, a fire on De Waal Drive in Zonnebloem, and a fire near Big Bay Boulevard on the West Coast Road.

These destroyed large areas of vegetation but did not endanger lives or property. Smith said the Somerset West fire appeared to have destroyed three buildings, including the upper section of the lodge.

Theo Layne, Cape Town Fire and Rescue Spokesperson said, “Continuous assessment is being done to determine if we need more crew or if the crew that we have is sufficient and we just have to rotate them, in order to make sure that they don’t become dehydrated.”

“….. also the workload that is put on them is tremendous because it is a mountainous area, and they are travelling quite a bit up and down the mountain.”

Voluntary evacuations are under way, as the flames on the mountain reach residential areas.

Exhausted firefighters have worked 24 hour shifts containing the fires on all fronts, and the community have responded by delivering large quantities of drinking water and more interesting foodstuffs for the firefighters than the rations they are issued with, to keep their morale up.

Numbers of horses were evacuated from farms along the road to Sir Lowry’s Pass, with owners and helpers arriving uninvited with horse boxes to move the frightened animals. Some horses had to be walked out, because the general commotion made them too skittish to be boxed and transported.

And HAMNET was there. From early on Tuesday evening, HAMNET members joined the convoy of vehicles ready to start evacuating people whose houses were threatened on the pass.

It seems that by Wednesday evening, the fires were largely contained. But HAMNET was already busy on Table Mountain again, assisting with logistic management of tourist rescues. Landing zones had to be established for the AMS helicopters, some of the rescue teams had HAMNET members amongst them climbing to assist in rescues, and occasionally,  a second group had to be despatched to approach the mountain from a different direction, to gain access to the threatened parties.

Table Mountain and surrounds broke the record for rescues in 2016, with Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) being involved in 170 rescues during 2016. WSAR consists of volunteers from the Mountain Club of SA, the Off Road Rescue Unit, HAMNET and Delta Search and Rescue, amongst many others. We assist the Emergency Medical Services in the Western Cape wherever and whenever they need us, and have a duty logistics manager on duty 24/7 to accept requests for help from HAMNET.

Fighting fires uses water, and local dams were severely depleted by the helicopters scooping up water in buckets to dump on the fires. The water levels in the Western Cape dams have dropped by an average of 4% this last week, while all other provinces are the same as last week.

However, the Karee Dam, which supplies Calvinia in the Northern Cape is absolutely dry, and only limited water is available from bore holes in the area. Our thoughts go out to the people in that area, who are parched by their very hot climate at the best of times.

This is Dave Reece reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

REPORT 1 January 2017

Greg Mossop G0DUB has sent us a summary of the Super Typhoon situation in the Philippines, provided by Jim Linton VK3PC, and I quote:

‘Six people have been killed and more than 380,000 evacuated as Super Typhoon Nock-Ten (locally called Nina) cut a path through the Philippines, with the Ham Radio Emergency (HERO) net activated in advance. The Christmas Day disaster cut power to five provinces, downed trees, caused widespread damage, and dimmed the festive occasion in Asia’s largest Catholic nation.

‘The slow moving typhoon made landfall seven times from Sunday evening until noon on Monday. Jojo Vicencio DU1VHY says: “A truly commendable job was done by many radio amateurs who not only gave up their traditional Christmas activities, but had on occasion to stop transmissions because they were in the storm path.”

‘In the Catanduanes were Sider DU4SLT of ARCC, Dexter DU4DXT and Joseph DV4PGS, Joseph of ISLACOM, with other groups in Bicol and Samar-Leyte. All were on HF, and VHF communications were also active.

‘Jojo DU1VHY says that, as the typhoon first made landfall some network stations were off air, with weather reports for Catanduanes of sustained winds in excess of the 200kph mark. Then gradually stations came back giving reports of the terrible damage that had occurred in their areas. As the typhoon swept along the Southern Tagalong areas it made landfall several times. Mannduque was badly hit too, as reported by HERO.

‘Jojo DU1VHY says: “It created a large swath of destruction and debris – uprooted and fallen trees and posts, landslides, impassable roads and other damage. Even our own HERO’s were not spared.”

‘The reports were quickly gathered by the network and relayed to authorities, some tuned in to the HERO net themselves.

‘ “The HEROs persistence in getting back on air, primarily to update the network of hams is truly admirable,” he said.

‘Jojo DU1VHY says: “It has now become a reality that our emergency calling frequency is the most listened to during disasters. Government operators listened in, and some even revealed their presence.

‘ “Armed Forces station Peacemaker in Catarman, for example, broke into the frequency looking for a counterpart station also in Northern Samar.

‘ “A National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) volunteer operator made his presence known saying they were also monitoring.”

‘The Office of Civil Defence (OCD) has two stations that constantly visited the HERO net. From Leyte to Quezon the HERO communications on 7.095 MHz never faltered.

‘Jojo DU1VHY says: “Thank you to all those who willingly gave up their Christmas time to be of service to others. We all must continue to hone our communications skills to meet and be prepared for the future.”

‘About 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, with emergency communications to the community and other agencies provided by the HERO network.’ End quote.

Good news issued by the World Health Organisation this week reveals that an experimental Ebola vaccine was highly protective against the deadly virus in a major trial, according to results published in The Lancet last week. The vaccine is the first to prevent infection from one of the most lethal known pathogens, and the findings add weight to early trial results published last year. The vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV, was studied in a trial involving 11841 people in Guinea during 2015.

“While these compelling results come too late for those who lost their lives during West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, they show that when the next Ebola outbreak hits, we will not be defenceless,” said Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s Assistant Director General for Health Systems and Innovation, and the study’s lead author. Good news indeed. We await with eager anticipation the announcement of a similar vaccine for the AIDS virus!

As usual, the Dam report for South Africa for the week just finished makes depressing reading. The Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal, Lesotho, North West and Northern Cape dams all show no change on last week’s levels, but are on average between 10 and 12% lower than the same week last year. Limpopo province has shown a 3% increase over last week, now at 49%, compared to 66 last year, Mpumulanga has gained 2% on last week to 56%, but still less than last year’s 63%, and only North West shows a 10% higher figure than last year, now at 57% full.

Apparently, there have been some quite good rains here and there, but not enough to make appreciable differences to the province’s averages. The Western Cape is in its dry season, and there will have to be a significant wet winter season to get their dams into a state capable of supplying water for the next summer at the end of 2017. To a greater extent, the other provinces rely on Summer rainfall to provide their potable water, and we watch with concern the patchy nature of the rainfall so far.

On a more optimistic note, may I take the opportunity to wish all my listeners and readers a happy healthy and prosperous New Year, full of useful amateur radio activities, showing a keen spirit of volunteerism, and getting involved in helping our fellow citizens when called to help. That’s what we do so well!

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for Hamnet in South Africa.