WEATHER: Record rainfall doubles Cyprus dam inflows

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Record rainfall during the last few days has nearly doubled water levels in Cyprus dams, with some reservoirs reaching capacity and overflowing, while others had excess water diverted to the giant Kouris dam, near Limassol, music to the ears of farmers.

Heavy rain flowing into the dams raised storage levels to 77.6 million cubic metres, or 26.7% of the system’s total capacity of 290.8 mcm as of Wednesday.

This is double the rate of year-ago levels, when after a spell of droughts, water in all dams totalled 40.1mcm or 13.8% of total capacity.

Statistically, January seems to be the wettest month to date, as in just nine days rainfall has already reached 82% of the average, according to Water Development Dept.

The amount of precipitation measured in the last 24 hours averaged at 5.2mm, for an accumulative January rate of 84.3mm.

The average for the entire month, based on Met Office statistics since 1961, has been 102.4mm, a rate that could very soon be overtaken.

Combined with the rapid drop in temperatures, due to a cold front moving eastward from Greece, a lot of the rain has become snow, with snowfall reported on Wednesday morning at 70cm on the island’s highest peak of Mt Olympus and 50cm at Troodos square.

Heavy rainfall and snow has also resulted in a number of roads closing to all vehicles, with 15 public schools and kindergartens in the higher mountain areas remaining closed on Wednesday.

Three small reservoirs, at Argaka and Pomos near Polis Chrysochous and Kalopanayiotis in Nicosia District have already reached 100% capacity and are overflowing, while Xyliatos is already at 88% and Mavrokolympos in Paphos district is at 87%.

The island’s biggest dam at Kouris, with a capacity of 115 mcm, is the primary supplier to the Southern Conveyor system, and is already at 19.4% of capacity, far more than the 7.9% this time last year.

The second biggest dam of Asprokremos in Paphos has a capacity of 52.4 mcm and is already at 35% capacity, up from 19.3% a year ago.

Agriculture and Natural Resources minister Costas Kadis recently warned against complacency, adding that consumers should keep on saving water, as if during a drought season.

He said that the rationing system of reducing water supply will be reviewed at the end of the month and every month up until the summer tourist season where consumption peaks, especially after the record arrival of holidaymakers, expected to exceed 4 mln this year.