It’s been a while… Over a year in fact since
This summer has seem some fairly unusual weather thus far. Usually temperatures in the Western Cape soar between the months of January and February and historically are the hottest months for Cape Town, though this year while January had some rather warm days it was more mild than one would expect for that month. February has started off well below the average for Cape Town with temperatures being in the low to mid 20s for majority of the time- this is far below the expected low 30s which one typically experiences at this time of the year.
It is interesting to note that while Cape Town has been well below average that just inland in places like Worcester, while temperatures haven’t been quite as hot as expected for February, it has been quite a lot hotter than Cape Town with temperature differences of around 8 degrees on many days, compared to the usual difference of around 3-5 degrees.
There have been a few weak cold fronts to push through the Western Cape in the past few weeks, but were short events. The general weather pattern is much closer to Autumn than to Summer. In the summer months Cape Town generally has a primarily off-shore flow with the famous South-Easter making it’s presence felt on majority of days, this seems to not be the case late this summer, with an on-shore wind pattern seeming to remain in effect.
The long range models at the moment continue showing a very very mild February with temperatures seeming to hover around the mid 20s. Could it be that was are already transcending into Autumn? It’s very possible given the steadiness of this moderate weather and the long range model forecasts, though one cannot discount that it is just a period of cooler weather and that we may still see some true summer conditions coming.
As many of you know, the Garden Route area along the Southern Cape are suffering the effects of a strong drought. And while they would love the unset of an early winter, conditions as mentioned above are consisting of weak cold fronts which have very little impact with only a few mm of rainfall being produced.
Another interesting fact to note is the lack of strong troughs this summer, while the central parts of the country were receiving some good thunderstorms generated by troughs fairly recently these trough systems are far weaker than the usual January and February troughs- they are not dipping down south as they often do at this time of the year, this is another reason for the Southern Cape drought situation, they often benefit from the deep trough systems which pass from west to east across S.A and dip down into the southern regions.
The fact is the Cape usually sees 2-3 thunderstorms in the summer months from deep dipping trough systems, but this year we haven’t had any true such events. Granted there was some thunderstorm activity on the 9th of February but this was due to a very weak trough interacting with a weak front and not the result of a purely subtropical trough.
We should have another month or 2 before the seasons truly switch to winter-type patterns (though earlier if this weather is an indication of an early Autumn). Autumn is typically the best time of year for thunderstorms in the Western Cape around Cape Town. April has been the month that I have noticed tends to be most active, when the first cut-off lows begin moving in, while temperatures aren’t that low yet.