Is South Africa’s May rainfall this year a promising start to 2018 in terms of the Cape Town weather?
DISCUSSION: According to weather experts, April-May rainfall over South Africa are determining months as these months tend to be used as a gauge for the rest of the year. The rain maps above indicate that yellow areas are places that received little to no rain. The 2018 map already shows a healthier shade of green in the Western Cape, indicating that more regions received between 25 mm – 50 mm of rain in one week, compared to 0 - 10 mm for year 2017 for the same area.
The rains are good news for the Western Cape‚ but strict water restrictions are still enforced. According to the Western Cape government, the average level for dams across the province on Monday was 19 %, an improvement on the 16.6 % at this time last week. The forecasting system indicates above-normal rainfall during early winter, according to the South African Weather Service.
The Cape Town weather has been the best performer in the battle to beat day zero over the last few weeks, as multiple cold fronts hit the city with an abundance of rain. Forecaster Cobus Olivier said in an e-mailed statement that a number of rainfall days were expected to be higher than normal for the winter rainfall areas. Some places in the region have already exceeded the average monthly rainfall targets for the month of May. Over the last few days, the downpours have even been kind enough to pay the ailing dams a visit.
"It should be noted, however, that there is not sufficient confidence in the forecasting system for these forecasts, thus there is very high uncertainty in the rainfall intensity for the winter rainfall areas," Olivier noted.
The above figure shows a cold front which is expected to make landfall in the evening (Tuesday 30th May 2018) going into the night associated with Gale force winds, heavy rainfall up to 50 mm in high lying areas, 20-30 mm over the Cape Metropole, localised flooding as well as high seas into tomorrow in the Western Cape. It is worth nothing that the average May rainfall for Cape Town is 70 mm.
Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell says it is heartening to see dam levels increasing but has cautioned that the drought is still far from over. “We have always warned that we need an above-average rainfall season and it needs to rain in the catchment areas for our dams to recover adequately,” says Bredell. Also, models show that an El Nino weather pattern seems to be developing during the region’s winter and spring, but it was too early to forecast if it would last into the summer growing season. The last El Nino was linked to a severe drought that hit crop production and economic growth across southern Africa, and the region is still emerging from its effects two years later.
To learn more about other high-impact weather and weather-related stories occurring across Africa, be sure to click here!
© 2018 Meteorologist Daneeja Mawren