Cape Town - Batten down the hatches. Heavy rain, cold winds, severe flooding and even light snow are predicted as a battery of cold fronts head for the Western Cape that could bring discomfort and displacement in some areas.
Last week, Cape Town experienced unseasonably warm conditions as a result of a “blocking high pressure” which prevented cold fronts from reaching the coastline, causing them to slip away south of the country.
But now cold and wet conditions can be expected.
The South African Weather Service (SAWS) has issued an advisory, warning that a series of cold fronts would hit parts of the Western Cape from last night.
SAWS said this might cause flooding of roads and both formal and informal settlements, damage to property and infrastructure, loss of livelihoods and livestock, disruption to essential services, and disruptions of traffic flow due to roads being flooded or even closed.
By this evening, another cold front was expected to reach the Western Cape. As these fronts make landfall, high rainfall is expected mainly in the south-western parts of the province from today until Wednesday afternoon.
Rainfall of between 50mm and 80mm can be expected over the mountainous areas of the Cape Metropole, western parts of the Cape Winelands, and the western parts of the Overberg districts.
Temperatures are expected to drop significantly over the entire Western Cape and Namakwa district.
Light snowfall can be expected on Tuesday over the southern high ground of Namakwa, high-lying areas in the western interior of the Eastern Cape, and the north-eastern high ground of the Eastern Cape on Wednesday.
Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said: “The City’s services will be on standby to deal with any impacts from adverse weather conditions this week, including clearing flooded roadways, blocked drains and trees.
“I want to encourage the public to report any weather-related emergencies to our public emergency communication centre on 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline.”
Local government MEC Anton Bredell said he was deeply concerned by the warning of potential flooding and damage to infrastructure in low-lying areas. He said the disaster management centre was on high alert for storm winds and significant downpours.
Bredell said he was also concerned about the possibility of veldfires after having to deal with two big fires in Milnerton and Somerset West last week.
The weather office predicted an 80% chance of rain for tomorrow; 30% chance of rain but clearer skies for Wednesday; and no rain for Thursday, but high-level clouds.
UCT climate system analysis group PhD student Stefaan Conradie previously said the same large-scale “blocking” pattern that drove the high temperatures experienced in Cape Town last week was predicted to change to a slow-moving low pattern this week which would bring cold, wet and windy conditions as confirmed by the SA Weather Service.
“So, while the start of winter this year has been quite dry, that may well change from next week,” Conradie said.
Bredell said the major dams feeding Cape Town, Wemmershoek, Voëlvlei, Steenbras Upper and Lower, Theewaterskloof and Berg River dams was at a combined 64.4%, which was lower than the 75% level recorded this time last year.