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January has so far been a month to remember in terms of local and international weather. In the beginning of the month devastating flash floods ripped through parts of Australia with Toowoomba probably seeing the worst of the action. It’s been an extremely active summer rainfall pattern for the southern hemisphere it appears.

Back at home the beginning of January saw the Western Cape melting with a record setting heatwave in the first week. Temperatures exceeded 40’C for many places around the Boland and Breede River Valley, with temperatures above 35’C for a number of consecutive days. Temperatures have continued to hover around the 30 degree mark and there have already been multiple fires reported over the past few weeks, though personally for me in Somerset West it has been a quiet season thus far regarding fires.

On the 14th of January I noticed the models were showing some extreme rainfalls possible for areas in Gauteng and so did the SAWS with them issuing warnings for heavy falls of rain. I too promoted this warning on the Storm Chasing South Africa Facebook page, where three days later I’d be posting news links to articles on the flooding situation.

The Centurion hotel in Pretoria had to be evacuated due to flooding on the 17th of January. A fire fighter lost his life in an attempt to save victims of the flood on the same day. Though heavy rains have continued to come and go for much of the northern parts of South Africa. The Vaal dam was at 108% forcing the opening of the flood gates, meanwhile the Hennops river in Pretoria burst it’s banks and caused localised damage.

Heavy flooding was also reported on the 26th of January in Bethlehem, with the deployment of South African military services to aide in the situation.

While the South African Weather Service has been quite accurate in their warnings, other officials in South Africa are clearly lost on reality. A press release a couple days ago had quoted officials as saying that the floods were going to move down into the Cape. As much as I would love some tropical moisture moving down into the region it definitely doesn’t seem plausible, especially given that they stated it would do so in the next couple of months. Someone needs to send them back to primary school geography class to learn that cold fronts are different to tropical low pressure systems.




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