Yesterday was one of the warmer days of the season so far, which is part of the reason why we so excitedly declared summer open.
While we were officially encouraging you to bust out the beach ‘brollies’ (mind the wind), the weatherman has other things in store for us.
Willem Landman, known as the “father” of seasonal forecasting in South Africa, has predicted that this summer will be uncharacteristically wet.
But that’s precisely what summer is all about, you might be thinking – sweat, sea, and cocktails, right?
Rather, Landman’s meteorological senses are forecasting more rain and cooler weather this season.
We should have known since our summer Bat-Signal came out later than ever this year, interrupted by numerous curveballs, including devastating floods, and yellow warnings for severe weather.
You’ll have to excuse us for wanting to sip on our new favourite summer drink while soaking up some sun sans rain.
The unusual summer weather can be chalked up to two possible reasons. One is the La Niña phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
Basically, when La Niña is here we can expect a season full of rainfall, TimesLIVE explains:
La Niña is the colder and wetter parallel to El Niño. The two are part of a revolving southern oscillation climate pattern which affects Southern Africa. These weather patterns can last for years and, according to Landman, one cannot accurately predict when these patterns will occur until we are about five to 10 months away from experiencing them.
La Niña occurs when equatorial trade winds — air currents which blow from east to west close to the earth’s surface — blow stronger, changing the currents in the water. This forces cooler deep water to rise, cooling the Pacific Ocean and creating rainfall in this area. Southern Africa and other parts of the world are affected by this phenomenon.
According to Landman, the last time we had El Niño was in the 2018/19 season, and then La Niña happened in 2020/21 and now again in 21/22.
This year rain has fallen where it usually doesn’t, with a couple of places across the country recording their highest December rainfall already.
Another factor is something referred to as cut-off low-pressure systems (COLs), which associate professor in meteorology at the University of Pretoria, Liesl Dyson, explains via The Citizen:
“The cut-off low-pressure systems are large low-pressure systems that develop in the upper atmosphere at around seven to 10km above sea level,” she said.
Dyson said these lows are known to cause widespread rain on their eastern flanks and about one in five cause floods.
“COLs are not uncommon during this time of the year, however, what is noteworthy is that there have been so many of them in close succession. Even though this rainfall caused disruption, it is not unknown to happen during this period,” she said.
This is our official PSA to gear up for rain and cooler than usual temperatures throughout December, January, and February, then.
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