WEATHER GURU | The highs and lows of climate change
Just as I was about to highlight that the average maximum temperature for October in the Bay has been the coldest since 2012, the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service announced that 2023 would almost certainly become the hottest year on record, with monthly average records being achieved for the fifth straight month.
How is this possible, especially with the late winter and late snow experienced in many parts of SA?
It is quite simple.
Climate Change is a global service and is not restricted to one village, town, city, region or even country.
It takes data collected throughout the world and compares it as an average performance of temperatures throughout the world
As with every average, there will always be highs and lows.
For the average to be a record high, it would imply that our record low must be countered by extreme record highs in other parts of the world.
Besides the immediate effects on humanity, such as heatwaves contributing to veld fires, droughts and crop failure, there are many medium- and long-term effects that can be expected in our and many other areas.
The year 2016 was the previous hottest on record and we saw a strong El Nino accompany it.
The World Meteorological Organisation said the current El Nino was expected to last until at least April 2024.
Experts thus predict that 2024 will be even hotter.
Based on the state of the El Nino, predictions for our summer rainfall regions in the Eastern Cape do not look good.
The Langkloof is predicted to be exceptionally dry.
This means there will be little to no replenishment of our dams and a large increase in water demand throughout the fruit tree growing season.
To add insult to injury, the predicted above-normal hot summer will send evaporation levels skyrocketing.
During this time of the year we always see a natural spike in consumer demand from metro residents as well as all the surrounding holiday towns.
As one scientist put it: “Only with rapid and huge cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, across all sectors, can we avoid these repeating headlines of record-breaking warmth and, more importantly, limit the growing severity of wet, hot and dry extremes that accompany a rapidly warming world.”
Besides droughts, both climate change and El Nino increase the chances of severe weather.
The severe storms in the southern Cape recently could be a precursor of things to come.
For us, it seems that the wind had blown itself out by the time it got here, as October yielded one of the calmest Octobers in almost two decades.
The average wind speed in October of 5.3m/s (19km/h) was the calmest since 2006, when 4.8m/s (17km/h) was recorded.
It is well short of the average of 6.0m/s (22km/h).
I don’t know if this trend will persist as November started blustery and the day of publication of this column should be nasty to say the least.
This week in history:
1922 : Floods were the order of the day from the Bay though Makhanda/Grahamstown to East London.
Weather Safety Tips:
Touching a bicycle, motorbike or especially a metal fence during a thunderstorm is dangerous. They are all conductors and lighting can travel miles down a fence. Avoid all metal and electrical objects during a thunderstorm.
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