Cape Town – Cape Town is on high alert - across land, sea and air - as the South African Weather Service anticipates the full extent of a major cold front to be unleashed across the Western and Eastern Cape on Wednesday.
While schools have been shut for the day, with the University of Cape Town also confirming it would be closed for the day as emergency services are on standby - Airports Company South Africa says it has put a number of plans in place.
Strong winds that have been forecast could impact aircraft operations. Four airports could possibly be affected by the storm, but Acsa says it is prepared and equipped to deal with the possible impact.
On Wednesday morning at 06:30 Airports Company Spokesperson Deirdre Davids advised all flights have departed as per the schedule.
"We're on track so far," says Davids after confirming Acsa anticipated Cape Town, George, East London and Port Elizabeth to possibly affected.
"These airports have completed a host of preparations that include ensuring that heavy equipment on the airside is appropriately secured, that storm water channels are clear to avoid floods and making sure that key staff are on standby to respond to possible spills, leaks or flooding," says Davids.
SEE: Weather Update: Gale force winds, 100% rain predicted for most of Western Cape
Acsa has advised passengers to stay in touch with their respective airlines for updates on possible delays and rescheduled flights.
"No flights have so far been delayed or cancelled."
Flysafair confirmed it will be continuing with business as per usual and will be operating its schedule as far as is safe and feasible to do so.
"There is a high possibility of weather related disruptions which could include delays and possible diversions. Our teams and back-up aircraft are prepared to ensure that we minimize any impact to our schedule, " says FlySafair spokesperson Kirby Gordon.
"Any passengers affected by weather delays, if there are any, will be messaged via SMS directly using the numbers that we were provided at the time of booking."
SEE: Caught in heavy rain? Here's what SA motorists should do
In addition, Airports Company South Africa has warned that in the event of flight delays at one airport there could be a knock-on effect at other airports across the country.
SEE: What to do when your flight gets cancelled
"Weather delays are fundamentally a matter of safety and airport operations will always defer to the judgment of the Air Traffic Navigation Services when flights need to be delayed or cancelled.
"Airports Company South Africa will continue to do all it can to minimise disruption and to keep the passenger experience as efficient and comfortable as possible," says Davids.
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Disruptive Snowfall on Thursday
As if gale force winds and extreme storm surges along the coastal regions were not enough, the South African Weather Service warns disruptive snowfall can also be expected from Thursday. The southern high ground of the Northern Cape and the mountainous areas of the Cape Winelands are expected to be most affected.
Tips if you're travelling by air on Wednesday:
If you have somewhere that you absolutely have to be, or if you are cutting it fine to catch a connecting international flight, you are advised to try and move your flight forward and leave as soon as possible. The biggest risk factor will be the strong winds. If the winds come and go, there could be windows of safe operation which will allow aircraft to move in the quieter times, but strong winds can also set in and remain there for some time, which could result in some severe delays.
Arrive early and brace yourself. People looking to fly tomorrow are bound to be fairly nervous about weather related disruptions. There’s every chance that the airports will be quite busy. The best bet will be to arrive as early as possible, check-in with your airline and find a spot to relax. It might even be a good day to spring for lounge access.
Make sure your airline has your contact details. Most airlines recognize the importance of good communication during times like these, and often the airline will contact you with updates via email or SMS. Make sure that your airline has your correct contact details. This can often be an issue when you’re not the person who made your reservation directly.
Keep your medications on your person – this is always a good idea, but if you are delayed waiting for a flight, you’d be best to have any medications that you might need to take on yourself, rather than stuck in your checked in luggage.
What to do during a major storm with gale force winds:
- Disconnect appliances
- Stay inside well clear of windows, sheltering in the strongest part of the house (internal hallway, bathroom or cellar)
- Keep an emergency kit with you that includes things like first aid supplies, torch, battery operated portable radio, important documents and medicines.
- If possible stay in secure shelter
-Avoid driving by road as far as possible, stay in your vehicle if caught on the road, with the car handbrake on and parked well clear of trees, powerlines and possible flooding
- Never drive, ride or walk in floodwaters
-Fill buckets, sinks and baths with water in case the water supply becomes restricted.
Important Emergency contact numbers:
- City of Cape Town: 107 landline or 021 480 7700
- Police Flying Squad: 10111
- Ambulance: 10177
- City of Cape Town General Emergency: 107
- Cellphone Emergency: 112 (MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom)
- Red Cross Children's Hospital Poison Line & the Tygerberg Hospital Poison Information Centre: 0861 555 777
- Safe Schools: 0800 45 46 47
- Western Cape Government: 0860 142 142
- Sea Rescue: 021 449 3500
- Mountain Rescue: 021 948 9900
- Disaster Management: 080 911 4357
- Eden District: 044 805 5071
- Central Karoo: 023 414 2603
- West Coast: 022 433 8700
- Overberg: 028 271 8111
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