The Western Cape province has been declared a drought disaster area as it faces its worst water crisis in living memory.
Rainfall has been below average since 2016 and this dry trend has continued into 2017 as seen on the graph below.
Winter rainfall areas can usually expect their first good rainfall for the winter season in May, with an average of just below 70mm at Cape Town International Airport. Unfortunately, rainfall has been far below normal. The graph above shows less than 10mm of rain thus far over Cape Town International.
The reason for such a dry spell is the dominant South Atlantic High Pressure system to the south west of Cape Town. This has been pushing the cold fronts away to the south, without making landfall over the south-western parts of South Africa
The dominant South Atlantic High should be migrating slowly northwards at this time of the year, allowing the cold fronts to impact on the Western Cape’s weather.
The prolonged drought has negatively affected the dams in the Western Cape, where dams, on average, are below 19% full. This is 11% lower than the same time last year with the last 10% of the water in the dams unusable for consumption. Therefore the Western Cape has less than 9% usable water left.
Unfortunately, it looks like the dry trend will continue into the week ahead where, almost no rain is expected for the entire South Africa.
Looking ahead into the weekend, there’s an indication that a front will make landfall south-western parts, late on Saturday. This will bring cloudy and cooler conditions with light rain overnight.
Let’s hope the models stay true to their forecast for the coming weekend but either way, the @eNCA weather team will closely monitor the system and have regular updates online.
Blog by eNCA meteorologist @venter_annette