Our Burning Planet


SA spring and early summer still look warm and mostly wet with some big dry patches — Weather Service

SA spring and early summer still look warm and mostly wet with some big dry patches — Weather Service

The forecast for the rest of this calendar year — effectively spring and early summer — is that South Africa from coast to coast will be warmer than usual and for the most part wetter. But some big dry patches are emerging in the forecast.

With the El Niño weather pattern firmly in place, the latest monthly Seasonal Climate Watch from the SA Weather Service is a mixed bag.

On the one hand, most of the country is expected to get above-normal rainfall in early to mid-spring, while the northeast can expect more rain than usual in the late spring. The forecast looks five months ahead to the end of December.

El Niño typically heralds drought in this region and the 2014-2016 event was a blazer, so above-normal rainfall in the coming months may prove critical for dam and soil moisture levels during the height of the summer grain growing season.

But some big dry patches are also seen emerging on the map.

“[B]elow-normal rainfall is predicted over the central [parts of North West, Free State and Northern Cape] and southeastern parts [Eastern Cape] of the country during the mid- and late-spring seasons,” the report said. Western parts of the country are also expected to be relatively dry during the entire forecast period.

That could have an impact on livestock and other sectors in those regions — the dryness seems to be mostly west of the Grain Belt in areas that are relatively arid — but it is concerning that parts of the Eastern Cape may be in for less rainfall than usual. The province has been hit by a wave of droughts in recent years, raising concerns about water security and heaping misery on subsistence and commercial farmers alike.

Across the width and breadth of South Africa, temperatures are predicted to be above normal from now until the Christmas holiday season. 

“The projected minimum and maximum temperatures suggest a likelihood of relatively warmer conditions across the entire country during the forecasted period, “ the Weather Service said.

“Ultraviolet radiation (UV) levels are expected to exceed the 3 UVI threshold (as per the WMO Universal UV Index scale), making it crucial for people to implement appropriate sun protection measures to minimise potential risks associated with UV exposure.”

This should not be a shocker. July 2023 looks set to become the hottest month in recorded history and one of the consequences of the unfolding El Niño that scientists have been warning about is a rising thermometer.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Hot, hot July 2023 set to be hottest month in recorded history — almost certainly caused by humans burning fossil fuels 

So stock up on ice and cool drinks. Spring is about to erupt and the recent memories of snow in Joburg and assorted cold fronts are about to melt away. DM

To read all about Daily Maverick’s recent The Gathering: Earth Edition, click here.

Absa OBP

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