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Seasonal floods along the Zambezi River
This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated. At the time of publication, it represented the best available science. However, more recent observations and studies may have rendered some content obsolete.
Heavy rains through the month of March have pushed a section of Africa’s Zambezi River to its highest level since 1958. Just as the mighty river turns east in its path to the Indian Ocean, and immediately before it thunders over the Victoria Falls, it passes through the low-lying plains of Namibia’s Caprivi Strip. This section of the river floods often as the wet-season rains fill the river. This year, the floods have come earlier than normal, and are rising to levels not seen in nearly 50 years.
The Namibian government expects to evacuate 40,000 to 50,000 people from the region as the flood waters continue to rise, though only 20,000 have been affected as of April 1. In comparison, last year’s floods, which at the time were declared the worst the region had seen since 1958, forced 12,000 people from their homes. On March 31, 2004, the waters reached 6.89 meters, surpassing the peak of last year’s flood, 6.64 meters. So far, two people have died in this year’s floods.
The Zambezi River forms at a spring in northern Zambia, and flows south through Zambia and Angola before turning east in Namibia’s Caprivi Strip and flowing through Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Mozambique to the Indian Ocean. It is Africa’s fourth largest river system after the Nile, Zaire, and Niger Rivers. The high-resolution image also shows floods along the northern section of the river in Zambia at MODIS maximum resolution of 250 meters per pixel.