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Cape Town Storm 7th March 2010

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Wind, Rain and Snow on the Cards

Wind, Rain and Snow on the Cards

The coming few days will see a series of noteworthy weather events including rain, wind and snow for some areas. Despite a few strong cold fronts bringing heavy rains to the Cape over the past few months, dam levels remain alarmingly low and the Western Cape will be hoping for some more winter weather, if they are to avoid possible water restrictions come summer.

Black South Easter

Yesterday a black south easter developed over the Cape, bringing with it light showers to parts of the Overberg as early the afternoon. The low pressure trough to the north of Cape Town, responsible for the development of conditions, deepened overnight as it moved southwards. The effects were felt by many around the Cape as the gradient in pressure resulted in strong winds, with numerous reports of damage around the Cape and surrounding areas. Some unconfirmed reports suggest wind gusts were in excess of 100km/h in some areas. Black South Easters can result in both extreme winds and heavy rains, and have been responsible for several of the country’s biggest flood events. The low is expected to deepen further over the course of today and form into a cut-off low by midnight, as it moves to the south east.

As the low moves out to sea, it will continue to generate rainfall for the Western Cape as well as the central interior throughout much of Thursday (23rd July), with the potential for rainfall figures in excess of 20mm for Cape Town (as per the 00z GFS). The associated moisture towards the north will also see snowfalls possible on the highest peaks in Lesotho. While temperatures are expected to remain moderate, the wind chill factor will be keeping residents cold throughout the next couple days.

gordon's bay storm damage

Wind damage in Gordon’s Bay from the 22nd of July 2015, as the Black South Easter brought extreme winds to the Cape. Submitted by Johan.


synoptic chart 22 july

Synoptic Chart for the 22nd July, showing low pressure trough to the north of Cape Town, along with high pressure ridge to the south. The gradient between these two pressure systems is what’s resulting in the strong winds.

Come Friday, Come Snow

The first snow potential will come early on Friday (24th July) morning, with Sutherland standing the best chance of light snowfalls, as a band of moisture moves over the area.

The real point of interest however lies in the Eastern Cape and Lesotho, where snowfalls are expected to begin on Friday afternoon, as a low pressure system begins to form over the northern part of the country. This low pressure will continue to deepen through Friday, as freezing levels will limit the snowfalls to the higher mountains of Lesotho.

Heavy falls of snow can be expected on the higher mountains of Lesotho already on Friday. Image from Snow-Forecast

Heavy falls of snow can be expected on the higher mountains of Lesotho already on Friday.
Image from Snow-Forecast

low pressure snow

GFS Model showing the development of the low pressure system which will be the primary cause of the snow expected through the weekend.

On Saturday morning the low is expected to have deepened into a cut-off low, and will continue to bring good falls of rain to much of the central and northern provinces with falls in excess of 40mm possible in places. The heaviest rain on Saturday will likely be in Lesotho, while on Sunday (26th July) there is a possibility for heavy falls over areas of KZN.

Freezing levels are forecast to become rapidly more favourable for lower level snow over Lesotho and the Eastern Cape later into Saturday (25th), as they drop from around 3000 meters to under 2500 meters.

The models are also currently showing the potential for snowfalls around the Murraysburg and Middleburg areas on Saturday afternoon, spreading eastward later in the day, leaving a chance of snow for much of the higher Eastern Cape mountains. The north eastern parts of the Eastern Cape are also likely to experience good snowfalls later on Saturday.

Extreme snow totals are shown on the 00z model run over the southern parts of Lesotho and into the Eastern Cape.  Image from Snow-Forecast

Extreme snow totals are shown on the 00z model run over the southern parts of Lesotho and into the Eastern Cape.
Image from Snow-Forecast

Snowfall will continue into Sunday and the models are currently showing very impressive snowfalls over both Lesotho and the north eastern parts of the Eastern Cape (around Barkley East and Rhodes), with current forecasts suggesting the possibility of up to 40cm of snow for the extreme south of Lesotho. The most favourable freezing levels will occur on the tail end of the moisture, which means a slight change in timing could result in a significant change in forecast, especially with the system still being several days out.

If the current forecasts hold, this could be the biggest snow event thus far this year, but we’ll continue to monitor it and provide you with updates should anything in the forecast change.

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