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Victoria Falls Water Levels 2021

Is the Victoria Falls going to have record water levels in 2021?

15th February 2021

Indications so far show that this world-wonder could reach one of its highest levels in history

In October 2019, Sky and BBC News, reported that climate change could cause the largest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls, to run dry.

Mother Nature in response to that, saw the Victoria Falls rise to its sixth-highest level since 1961 in April 2020. Because of the global pandemic, which had only really just begun then, only a handful of international tourists were to experience this.

The 2020/2021 rainy season, in Victoria Falls got off to an early and strong start on the 7th October 2020 with a good downpour of 18mm.

If anyone has been in Africa when the first rains of the season arrive, they will know just how magical this event is. The smells are unique and the parched earth seems to be laughing.

After a week though, the rain disappeared for a whole month and we began to wonder if the reports of La Nina weather pattern for this year were false, but there was no need to worry. The rains came back and came back in force.

As of the today, I have personally recorded 648mm at our home in the residential area of Victoria Falls. Others in different areas of town have recorded up to 100mm more than that.

The Victoria Falls Boat club along the Zambezi River - February 2021

Victoria Falls Boat Club (12 February 2021) - As the Zambezi River rises, most of the grass in the foreground will get covered with water.

The average annual rainfall for this area is about 600mm so we are already above average, with at least six to eight weeks of the rainy season still to go.

What does this mean for the actual waterfall?

Well, the below charts from the Zambezi River Authority show that at this point it is looking like a high water season. However, our local rains do not make the biggest impact on the level of Victoria Falls.

The real big factor is the rainfall in the upper Zambezi River catchment. The Chavuma station (on the Zambia/Angola border) chart below shows that they have also received significant rainfall, well above average at this point.

That mass of water only reaches Victoria Falls in March, April and May, which is why Victoria Falls is always at its highest peak in those months, even though our rainfall season is over by then.

Daily flow graph of the Zambezi River at Chavuma Mission Station February 2021

Flow 2426 m3/s (11/2/2021) - Flow 1893 m3/s (11/2/2020)
Chavuma Mission station on the Zambian / Angolan border shows above normal water flow


Daily flow graph of the Zambezi River taken from Big Tree-Victoria Falls Station in February 2021

Flow 1352 m3/s (11/2/2021) - Flow 719 m3/s (11/2/2020)
Victoria Falls station also shows above normal water flow but you can see how the graph lines in previous years start to rise sharply in March as the headwaters from the north arrive.

So by what we are seeing so far, it does look like Victoria Falls is going reach one of its highest levels in history.

When the Falls are that full, it becomes almost impossible to see them through all the rising spray but the sheer power of all the water cascading over such a large chasm in indescribably breath-taking.

We can only hope that some international travellers will be able to witness it this year.


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