Extreme SA Weather Alert: Spring tide warning as biggest Supermoon in 68 years looms

2016-11-11 08:49 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
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Cape Town - South Africa is in the grips of some insane weather patterns, with the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) advising extreme caution around coastal regions as it is expecting an above average Spring Tide for the weekend leading into Monday.

The public is being warned to be especially careful around the South African coastal regions between 10 and 18 November, when the much-anticipated Supermoon will be visible from South African skies. 

The warning comes after SA's interior was hit with severe flash floods and thunderstorms over the past four days. In Johannesburg, especially, cars have been washed away and fatalities reported.

OR Tambo International Airport was experienced flooding in the airport building and parking areas, while flights were hit with knock-on delays due to the inclement weather for four consecutive days. 

Although more severe thunderstorms have been forecast for Sunday, 13 November, OR Tambo confirmed that no delays were expected on Sunday. 

SEE: OR Tambo airport delays cleared as Joburg weather improves

The NSRI says it is preparing for severe weather and any anticipated emergencies.

The monthly spring tide will peak with the super moon on Monday, 14 November, and the effects of the spring tide on the coastline will already be visible from Thursday, 10 November, NSRI spokesperson, Craig Lambinon says. 

"This time the 'Super Full Moon Spring Tide' will have a greater effect on the coastline because the full moon this month will be closer to earth than normal (known as a super moon)," Lambinon says. 

'Moon will appear 14% bigger and 30% brighter than average'

On 14 November 2016, the moon will appear 14% bigger and 30% brighter than the average moon as it comes closest to earth since 1948.

Although December brings another Supermoon, the next one of this proportion, as close to Earth, will only be seen in 2034. 

Therefore, "this Super Moon will have a much greater effect on the spring high and low tides making them more prominent than normal and hence extreme caution is advised because rip currents around the coastline will be stronger than the normal spring tide effects on the coastline," Lambinon warned.

'Extreme caution is advised'

Members of the public, anglers, bathers, beach strollers, boaters, paddlers and coastline hikers are advised to exercise extreme caution around the coastline during the next week and a half. 

Spring tide happens twice every month, at full moon and at new moon, and lasts for a few days over each full moon and each new moon, peaking on the day of the full moon and the new moon.

The bi-monthly spring tides bring higher than normal high tides and lower than normal low tides and stronger than normal rip currents.

While rip currents are always present and dangerous, the spring tide creates stronger than normal rip currents and hence the danger is increased. In the ocean, there are two high tides and two low tides every day. During Spring Tide the twice daily high tides are higher than normal and the twice daily low tides are lower than normal. 

In order to stay safe, beach-goers are being asked to adhere to the following safety tips:

Swim only where there are lifeguards and where signs indicate that it is safe to do so.
If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and relax. Swim slowly and conservatively parallel to the shoreline or relax and let it carry you out past the breakers until it slacks. 
If you see someone else in trouble in the sea, alert the lifeguards or find help. Do not put your own life in danger as well.
Don’t drink alcohol before swimming or driving motor boats. The use of alcohol dulls the senses, slows the reactions and can lead to irresponsible behavior.
Don’t dive from tidal pool walls – this can result in spinal injuries.
Do not take small or unstable boats out far from the shore in choppy water or bad weather.

Emergency Numbers - Emergency calls to these numbers will be routed to the relevant Sea Rescue authority 

Ambulance - 10177
Police - 10111

Local Port Control Numbers as detailed on the NSRI website: 

Saldhana Port Control 0227141726
Table Bay Port Control 0214493500
Mossel Bay Port Control 0446046271
Port Elizabeth Port Control 0415071911
East London Port Control 0437002100
Durban Port Control 0313618567
Richards Bay Port Control 0357531991 or 0359053401/3444

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