Most people are unaware but the South African Weather Service
It’s been a while since my last update, and for that I apologize. I have been quite busy lately working on my other website dedicated to birding and my general photography, but I have most certainly been keeping a close eye on global weather and promise to get back into more article entries again, especially now with winter here restricting my birding.
There is a lot to talk about though, June was a very interesting month for severe weather all over. Starting in the United States, summer arrived without it ever really being winter, many thought that it may just be a delayed winter, but it turned out to just be an extremely mild one. Many of the towns in southern states not even seeing a single snowflake this season.
A big talking point for those in the hobby of hurricane tracking was the development of two tropical systems prior to the kick off of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, and by late June with the formation of Debby the season had set records for the early dates of storm formation. Debby was an interesting storm that models were having a terrible time handling, in the early days it looked like a fairly strong hurricane was on the cards for the Texas coast with the NHC forecasting a slow progress from the Gulf of Mexico to Texas, but as time went on the models began to flip flop, the EURO which is a favourite among forecasters because of it’s reliable history was very wrong in this case, going in the opposite direction of the GFS. Later runs then merged more along the lines of the GFS model’s thinking, showing a Florida landfall. The NHC forecasting was playing it safe and constantly nudging the forecast track to the right with each advisory.
Tropical Storm Debby was extremely slow moving and meandered in the Gulf for an extended period of time, many were expecting the storm to reach hurricane strength, but Debby was anything but a typical storm. Prior to reaching the coast she was being destroyed by a combination of wind shear and dry air intrusion from the west. Her center of circulation was exposed for much of the time and her primary convection was consolidated in an ‘tail’ to the east of the circulation. This convection however was very deep at times and due to the slow movement remained there for several days, and with Florida on the east side of the storm, saw some extremely high rainfall totals in many parts of Florida, some exceeding 20 inches in 24 hours (over 400mm). Flooding was definitely going to be the primary concern with this storm.
Debby also baffled severe weather enthusiasts in her strength vs her appearance. On satellite she looked completely weak and not even worthy of the gift of a name, but recon kept finding winds that supported a tropical storm, far above those one would expect from the appearance.
After days over the Gulf she began to accelerate a bit and moved to the east, over Florida, shortly after emerging she began to merge to a cold front, losing her tropical characteristics.
It’s been a few weeks since Debby now, and the Atlantic is looking very quiet all of a sudden. I keep watching each model run looking for a hint at anything, even in the 15 day range, but nothing to mention at this point. It is also interesting to note that over the past month there have been strong indications that El Nino will be forming this season, and El Nino years typically have less hurricane activity than neutral and La Nina years.
Closer to home, the main talking point would be the tornado outbreak that occurred on the weekend of the 23rd and 24th June over primarily the Free State and parts of Gauteng. There were some very informative posts in the form regarding this event.
Otherwise weather down here in the Cape has been… Well very wintery. There have been a few strong fronts which have dumped some impressive rainfall totals, 24 hour readings exceeding 50mm in many places. A few of these fronts have also been accompanied by gale force winds and snow. Wind readings from two of these fronts have exceeded 40kt gusts, which is quite impressive indeed, especially since it’s only just the start of July. Due to the vast number of cold fronts making landfall it wouldn’t make sense to mention them all, but last night saw some very heavy rain falling in areas of the Cape as well as light snowfall on the Ceres mountains. This coming weekend looks to also offer more cold front excitement, as a strong front should bring heavy rains to the Cape on Friday with a potential for some snow too.
I think this wraps up most of the basic events, as I mentioned I will be getting back into more detailed and more ‘single event’ type articles again.