UPDATE: Gale force winds of 80-120km/h Cape storm's biggest threat

2017-06-07 10:11
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Cape Town - The SA Weather Service has confirmed the greatest concern right now are the very strong gale force winds being experienced across Cape Town, as the full impact of the expected storm takes effect.

SA Weather Service forecaster Kate Turner says, "Currently the weather is on track, the cold front has moved over the Western Cape as can be felt by the strong wind and rain.

LIVE: Cape Storm updates via News24

"The strong wind is the greatest concern as average winds of  30 to 40 knots (60-80km/h) are expected throughout the day, with gusts of 50-60 knots (100-120 km/h). These strong winds are expected to cause damage to houses as well as cause trees to be blown over.  Wind speeds are only expected to decrease on Thursday, 8 June.

SEE: Four SA airports on alert for massive Cape storm, anticipated knock-on delays - Acsa

Warning of huge swells

The area of Kommetijie needs to be on alert for swells of about 6m.

Turner says,"These have been measured at Kommetjie. A further increase in swell is expected, reaching 10-12m later today. The combination of the strong wind and high swell will result in damage mainly along the coastal areas of the west and south-west coasts." 

So far rainfall of 15-30mm has been measured over the past 24 hours until 08:00am on Wednesday morning, across the western parts of the Western Cape, with the highest rainfall measured at Grabouw where 63mm has already been measured.

A total of 50mm rainfall in 24 hours has been forecast overall. 

Turner says, "The rain is expected to continue throughout the day with the bulk of the rain expected over the south-western highlands mainly affecting the Cape Winelands."

SA Weather Service spokesperson Garth Sampson says the cold front will move over the southern western parts of the country on Wednesday, and will "sweep over the Eastern Cape on Thursday 8 June, with gale force winds expected between Plettenberg Bay and Port Alfred". By Friday 9 June it "will clear gradually from the west".

"This system is therefore significant due to the strong winds that many areas will experience and a sudden drop in temperatures on Thursday and Friday," says the SA Weather Service.

SEE: UPDATE: MyCiTi Bus 'fully operational' ahead of #DikWednesday storm

The severe weather conditions has resulted in the Western Cape education department's decision to close all schools on Wednesday, in the best interests of pupil and teacher safety. The school programme is expected to return to normal on Thursday. Read News24's full report here.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) has also taken the decision to close campus on Wednesday.

Commuters may continue to use MyCiTi Bus services and selected airlines such as FlySafair, who both plan on doing business as usual unless the conditions prove to be unsafe for travellers.  MyCiTi Bus says on Twitter that it "should be fully operational" on Wednesday, but will tweet if the situation changes. 

ALERT: Roads affected by #CapeStorm flooding

Gale force winds of 100km/h and high seas

Strong interior winds are expected on Wednesday. The South African Weather Service warns that gale to strong gale force north-westerly winds of 60 to 90 km/h are expected over the Western Cape, Northern Cape and western parts of the Eastern Cape on Wednesday, moderating on Thursday afternoon.

Sampson says on Wednesday, "strong Berg winds lead to gale force north-westerly winds over the Eastern Cape interior. Due to these hot dry winds the entire Eastern Cape interior there is a danger of runaway fires, due to the high fire danger index."

Gale force Westerly winds can be expected along the south coast on Thursday with gusts of up to 100km/h possible in places. See the full story here.

High to very high seas with wave heights between 6m and 12m is expected along the coastal areas of the Western and Northern Cape on Wednesday, spreading to the south coast of the Eastern Cape on Wednesday evening and continuing on Thursday.

Storm surge is expected along the Northern Cape and Western Cape coast on Wednesday and Thursday, spreading to the south coast of the Eastern Cape late on Wednesday.

Rain

Ezekiel Sebego, Chief Forecaster for the SA Weather Service says there is a high likelihood of widespread rain over the south-western parts of the country, and also potential for heavy rains of >50mm in 24hours in some places on Wednesday, 7 June.


The South African weather service forecasts for Wednesday will see 100% rain over the Cape Metro and coast, extending from Hermanus across the western part of the Western Cape and as far as Hondeklip Bay in the Northern Cape.

An 80% chance of rain is expected across the adjacent interior, including Sutherland in the Northern Cape, and 60% rain is predicted further inland across the Northern and Western Capes.

A 30% chance of rain is expected from the Eastern Cape, including Willowmore, and into the Northern Cape as far as De Aar. Sampson says that on Thursday "isolated rain showers are expected along the coast between Plettenberg Bay and Port Alfred".

The rest of the country will be cool and dry.

Snow expected in the high-lying regions, and black frost in Gauteng

Snow Report SA says that disruptive snow falls (up to 60cm) can be expected in the Western Cape from Tuesday night.

"The first snowfalls expected almost immediately on the mountains north of Paarl up to the top of the Cederberg, and east towards the ranges around Ceres, Worcester and De Doorns. Snow will continue falling on these high peaks right through Wednesday, and will start extending into the Northern Cape around the Sutherland area, and northwards towards Calvinia," says Snow Report SA.

All high ground above 1,500m in the areas indicated on the map are likely to get snow at this stage. It expects the Western Cape regions above 1,500m such as the Matroosberg to "get 55cm of snow on the peak. Cedarberg an estimated 40cm. The Groot Wellington Sneeukop is currently predicted to get the most snow, with 70cm possible on the peak." 

"There is also still a possibility of a few light flurries over Table Mountain too, but we are unlikely to see anything settle due to the heavy rains."

SA Weather Service says that Thursday morning might see some light snow on the Sneeuberg (Graaff-Reinet) through to the southern Drakensberg (Barkley East/Elliot area).

According to Sampson "light snowfall is possible over the North Eastern Escarpment - Eastern Cape Drakensberg" on Thursday.

Southern parts of Gauteng is expected to get frost from Thursday night into Friday.

SEE: Cape Town Water Crisis: Surrounded by two oceans, is desalination the solution?

Risk of Flash floods, water shortage hardly solved

SA Weather Service warns that heavy rainfall leading to localised flooding is expected in the Cape Metropole, Cape Winelands and Overberg of the Western Cape on Wednesday into Thursday morning.

And while there is expected to be a substantial amount of rain, the severity of the ongoing water shortage in the Western Cape is such that there will still be almost no relief.

SEE: Drought-stricken Cape Town braces for wet, windy cold front

"While there is some rain predicted for this week, we need continuous rainfall over many weeks for our dam levels to reach sufficient levels," says Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services and Energy, Cllr Xanthea Limberg.

Limberg confirmed the City of Cape Town is investigating a range of emergency solutions, including the rental of desalination units, that could altogether yield a supply of up to 500 million litres per day. See the full story here.

The water crisis remains dire for the Western Cape as dam levels fall further, and the City of Cape Town on Wednesday 31 May approved Level 4 water restrictions, which come into effect from Thursday 1 June. 

This limits residents to 100 litres of water per person, per day. Read News24's full report here.

High fire danger conditions

SA Weather Service also warns that extremely high fire danger conditions are expected over the eastern parts of the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and the western and central parts of the Free State and North West.

Temperatures 

On Wednesday, the minimum temperatures will range from cool to cold across most of South Africa, getting very cold in the central interior of the Northern Cape, Free State and Gauteng.

Maximum temperatures will be mostly cool to warm along the coasts and cold along the adjacent interior regions of the country.

On Wednesday, the Free State's Bethlehem and North West's Vryburg will be the coldest places in the country, dropping to 1°.

The east coast will be warm, and the hottest places in SA on Wednesday will be Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Richards Bay in KZN, and Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape, all seeing a high of 28°C.  

Click here to see the specific forecast for your city

Pretoria in Gauteng will reach a maximum of 22°C, while Johannesburg will reach 21°C and Bloemfontein in the Free State will reach a mild 23°C.

Along the coasts, Cape Town in the Western Cape will be a chilly 15°C, Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape will reach 24°C, while Durban on the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal will reach 28°C. 

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