Ricochet News

These places hold records for extreme weather in South Africa

May 25, 2016
These places hold records for extreme weather in South Africa

The coldest place in South Africa still remains Buffelsfontein with a mean annual temperature of 11.3 ºC and an average annual minimum temperature of 2.8 ºC.

Extreme rain

While the highest worldwide monthly rainfall occurs at Cherrapunji, India (9300 mm), in South Africa at Matiwa in the Limpopo Province (1510 mm measured in January 1958). The highest worldwide 24 hour rainfall was measured at Fac Fac, Reunion Island (1825 mm) and in South Africa at St Lucia in KwaZulu-Natal (597 mm measured on 31 January 1984). This was rainfall associated with the passage of tropical cyclone Domoina. In South Africa the highest ever rainfall in one year was measured at Jonkershoek in the Western Cape (3874 mm in 1950).

The wettest place in South Africa is Matiwa with an average annual rainfall of 2004 mm (calculated over a 60-year period). The driest Place in South Africa is Alexander Bay in the Northern Cape with an average annual rainfall of only 46 mm. 

Extreme wind

Sorry Port Elizabeth, the windiest spot in South Africa is actually Cape Point (Western Cape) which experiences only 2% of all hours in the year with calm conditions. The average wind speed is 6.9 m/s with 42.1% of the wind speeds greater than 8 m/s.

The strongest wind gust ever in South Africa occurred at Beaufort West (Western Cape) on 16 May 1984 and measured 186 km/h.

OK... Which is the windiest city Cape Town or Port Elizabeth? This is a difficult question to answer. What magnitude of wind is more noticeable than others? Possibly, we can resolve the issue by referring to the Beaufort Wind Scale. If one uses the Beaufort Wind Scale, wind only really becomes felt by human beings when the wind speed exceeds 1.5 m/s. Cape Town experiences wind of 1.6 m/s or more on 95.6% of the days of the year and Port Elizabeth on 95.7% of the days of the year. The Beaufort Wind Scale classifies any wind greater than 8 m/s as a Fresh Breeze.

In Cape Town a fresh breeze is experienced on 18.7% of the days in the year (68 days of the year) and in Port Elizabeth on 20.2% of the days in the year (73 days of the year). Seems Port Elizabth wins after all...

How often, and during which months, does the South Easter usually blow in Cape Town? South Easterly winds are experienced throughout the year, but are not that frequent when compared to winds blowing from other directions. South Easterly winds blow about 3% of the time in Cape Town, mainly in August (average wind speed 5 m/s) and October (average wind speed 6 m/s).

The strongest South Easterly winds occur in the summer months of December and February. During these months the average speed of the South Easterly winds is 7 m/s, but they occur less frequently during these months.

How windy is South Africa compared with the windiest place on earth? The windiest place on earth is the coastal part of Antarctica. Cape Denison on Commonwealth Bay in Antarctica has an average wind speed of 20 m/s. The windiest place in South Africa is Cape Point with an average wind speed of 6.9 m/s.


--article sourced from SA Weather Services