Under the weather: Storms and gales as SA enters Spring

It’s been a chilly start to the week. Spoiler alert, it’s only going to get worse, despite this being 1 September, aka Spring Day. The South African Weather Service issued alerts for thunderstorms and gale-force winds.

There is also the increased risk of fire conditions over the western parts of the North West; the eastern interior of the Northern Cape, and the western and central parts of the Free State.

Weather update: 1 September 2020

Cut-off low-pressure system

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) explains that “strong winds are expected over most parts of the central interior, mainly in North West and Free State, as well as the Cape provinces”.

“Most parts of the country are currently experiencing windy and chilly conditions as a result of a cut-off low-pressure system that is about to make landfall. This system also carries the potential for heavy rainfall, severe thunderstorms as well as strong to gale-force winds”.

Residents along the coast are warned of “strong south-easterly to easterly winds reaching gale force from Table Bay; and from Port Alfred along the southern coastal belt. Prepare for winds reaching 65 to 70 kilometres per hour.

“As a result of these persisting windy conditions, seas will deteriorate substantially with high seas and wave heights in an excess of 6 metres can be expected already from this evening [1 September] between Cape Point and Plettenberg Bay”.

Severe thunderstorms

The SAWS also warned of “gale to strong gale force easterly to south-easterly winds between 65 and 90 kilometres per hour, expected all along the coast between Table Bay and Port Elizabeth.

Moreover, this alert was issued from 14:00 on Tuesday until 00:00 on Wednesday morning, and includes the adjacent coastal towns.

Severe thunderstorms are expected over the western parts of the Free State; eastern and south-eastern parts of the Northern Cape and western parts of North West from late afternoon on 1 September until the early morning of 2 September.

Weather update: 2 September 2020

More of the same on Wednesday, 2 September 2020. The south-western parts of South Africa “can expect heavy downpours with potential for flooding over the Cape Metropole areas; Overberg and the Cape Winelands“.

In addition to the above, gale-force north-westerly winds of between 65 and 80 kilometres per hour are expected over the Central Karoo, Garden Route, Western Cape and the Karoo Hoogland as well.

Spring Day 1 September

The South African Weather Service also explained the difference between Meteorological Spring Day and Astronomical Spring Day. The first is based on the annual temperature cycle and follows the calendar.

Astronomical Spring Day, on the other hand, is based on the position of the Earth relative to the Sun; it uses solstices and equinoxes as a guide post.

While Meteorological Spring Day is celebrated on 1 September, the Astronomical Spring Day falls on 22 September.

Also read – Cold front: Nine weather records broken this week – including one in Orania

5fe713f5 snow - Under the weather: Storms and gales as SA enters Spring
The first pictures of the snow that fell in the Underburg region. Photo shared on Twitter/ReenvalSA, Image credit: Madie Botha

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