Actually, Sunday looks like the first “proper” Cape storm of the winter.
Light your fires, batten down your beagles.
Traditionally, a large area of low pressure sits some distance to the south of the country and swings a huge arm of heavy rain towards the south west corner of Africa. That didn’t happen much during the 2015-17 drought (at least it did, but the arm often didn’t quite make landfall).
This one is going to make landfall.
The rain isn’t falling hard, but the cold front is going to take a good 12 hours to pass over the Cape and so we should expect plenty of wetness, continuing into Monday morning. Strongest wind and rain seems likely to be Sunday evening: Windguru suggests 65kph and 13mm at 8pm.
I love this sort of weather. Sadly, the worst of it seems to be set to be in darkness, limiting the ‘togging opportunities, but at least there’s the rest of the winter to look forward to, right?
Today’s weather is utterly perfect in Cape Town, but local beagle owners are warned that the forecast for the rest of the week is much less peachy – and Monday in particular looks like being the antithesis of today’s glorious sunshine and calm conditions.
Thus, local beagles may present tomorrow with flappy ears, damp fur and muddy paws. It is recommended that beagles take a basket day and spend the daylight hours dozing somewhere safe and warm indoors and the nighttime hours… er… also dozing somewhere safe and warm indoors.
Goat owners are urged to take the usual precautions.
Not today, obviously. Today is… [checks]… Today is Monday, and all is well.
Still, if all continues to go well (and, given the way this country “works”, that’s certainly not guaranteed), Thursday is but… [checks]… three days away. And it’s going to be a bit wet and wild by all accounts.
I went to my usual contacts and looked to see just how large this allegedly “large” winter storm was going to be, and here’s what I found:
Grey bit on the left: South America. Grey bit on the right: Africa. Quite a lot of the intervening South Atlantic: large winter storm.
I felt compelled to break into song:
According to all sources (what sources now), The street’s the place to go (we better hurry up). ‘Cause [Thursday in the early hours] for the first time (first time) Just about half-past [two] (half past [two]) For the first time in history It’s gonna start raining… er… rain.
Just for absolute clarity, I have changed a couple of the lyrics because nothing relating to this story is happening tonight, just about half past ten. No, the first rain is actually more likely to fall sometime after midnight going into Thursday morning. And this won’t actually be the first rain in history, because there has been rain previously. Although not very much since 2014.
One of the few bits that I didn’t change was the advice about the street being “the place to go”. However, with hindsight, I probably should have done something about this. It does seems like a very bad idea when you consider it more carefully. The forecast winds are such that there could actually be some structural damage, and so I’d actually feel much better if you were all safely tucked up somewhere inside. In fact, given the possible severity of this storm, the street actually seems to be one of the worst possible places to go. I don’t know which sources were being quoted in the song, but they seem poorly informed and probably not worth listening to. Still, we’re all adults here and we can make our own decisions. I’m just saying that going to the street wouldn’t be one of mine.
Currently, it appears that this large winter storm isn’t nearly as large as the large(r) winter storm which came through last June. And that’s probably why we’re not really panicking about it just yet. That was the largest storm to hit Cape Town since 1984, whereas this will only be the largest storm to hit Cape Town since that one did.
That day, according to all sources, Kommetjie was the place to go and so I spent the afternoon down there ‘togging waves. But that was actually really great advice and so they must surely have been different sources from the ones above.
It’s still coming, although if you looked out of your Cape Town window this morning onto clear blue skies and sunshine, you might not believe it.
But a quick look at the beautiful graphics here shows a wonderful lilac arc of TPW – Total Precipitable Water – making its way steadily towards our little corner of the continent at about 75kph.
And while we’re desperate for the rain, we shouldn’t underestimate the effects of the incoming weather. Be prepared. Make sure your gutters and drains are clear of leaves and debris, stay inside tomorrow unless you really need to go out, make a plan to help your local homeless person/people.
UPDATE: The Haven Night Shelters have 15 shelters across Cape Town and the Western Cape. You can “buy a bed” at one of those shelters for a person who would otherwise be sleeping outside tonight by donating here.
And be aware of who to call if you need assistance.
Beagle owners have been warned to look out for conditions like Tail Drift and Ear Flap. Smaller dogs should be sufficiently weighted if you plan to take them out for walkies rather than flyies. Cats are on their own, and that’s just how they like it.
Rainfall estimates are still between 50-100mm, according to the SA Weather Service, which has most of the province on high alert (ironically also for fires in the high winds ahead of the rain):
And Windguru agrees, adding winds peaking around 100kph at lunchtime on Wednesday, with swells of 11.7m by early on Wednesday evening. A reminder to stay safe if you’re going anywhere down the Atlantic seaboard tomorrow, especially around high tide (1430). Getting that photo is pointless if you are then washed away before you can upload it.
Batten down your respective hatches, Cape Town. Stay safe, stay warm.
…the moerse storm which is due to make landfall in Cape Town late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Big storms are always big news, but because of our ongoing drought, this one is definitely more eagerly anticipated than most. It’s also arguably the biggest since this puppy hit us in August 2008.
Here’s the latest satellite image of our friend off the South West coast right now (0800 Monday): that dark area with a horn on it like some sort of malevolent unicorn.
So – some numbers:
Currently (Monday morning), Windguru is predicting 53.8welcome millimetres of rain beginning at 11pm on Tuesday and continuing until Thursday evening.
Storm enthusiast Bryn de Kocks says:
The Boland area in particular seems likely to receive large amounts of rain, especially towards the mountain catchment regions where rainfall is likely to be heavier due to orographic effects. We should be able to expect rainfall measurements anywhere from 50mm to 100mm in the far SW Cape and Boland area.
And given the extreme nature of the deep low pressure area right now, this seems appropriate:
The rain is great, but I’m looking forward to the wind, which will be topping 100kph (Wednesday lunchtime) and which will be playing its part in generating swells of 11 metres (Wednesday afternoon/evening). Worryingly, this coincides with high tide on Wednesday (14:28), and with the moon almost full, there’s likely to be some flooding along the west coast.
Still, have camera, may well venture out.
Thursday looks to be the coldest day of the week with a chilly maximum of 12°C. So if you’re in Cape Town, wrap up warm and do your bit to try to help those less fortunate. And remember your emergency numbers:
Flooding, blocked drains and service disruptions – 0860 103 089 or SMS 31373
Electricity outages/disruptions – 0860 103 089 or SMS 31220.
Road Closures, delays on roadways and deviations – 0800 65 64 63
Weather Reports – Cape Town Weather Office (021 934 0749/0831), weatherline (083 123 0500), listen to alerts on the radio and television or visit www.weathersa.co.za
Emergencies – 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone