Suddenly: August

It’s nearly the end of July, and that means that it’ll soon be August. After that… [double checks] yes, September.

So what? This happens every year, right?

Well, yes it does, but September 1st is unofficially known as Spring Day in South Africa, bringing with it… well… Spring. Not really Spring, but unofficially Spring. Springy enough not to be Winter anymore. Unofficially, at least.

That also happens every year, but given that we’re basically 5 weeks away from it (and therefore 5 weeks away from what is unofficially the end of the rainy season), and our dams are still looking emptier than an ANC promise, we really should be well into full panic mode by now. Especially given that the medium term forecast for the next fortnight (making up, as it does, 40% of that 5 week period) shows no sign of significant rainfall for the Western Cape.

Look, tomorrow is not going to be dry, but with a forecast of just 5.2mm of precipitation over 24 hours, it’s not going to be particularly wet either.

With the Cape Town dams sitting at 27.4% of capacity (as per this morning’s city figures) – and with the last 10% of that infamously “unusable” – things are looking every bit as precarious as ever. Add to that the fact that Cape Town’s residents are using 643,000,000 litres a day (that’s 143,000,000 litres or almost 30% more than we should be) and you (actually “we”) have a recipe for disaster.

There’s enough publicity about this situation on the TV, the internet (not least this damned blog), the radio and everywhere else for everyone in Cape Town to understand the gravity of the situation. But given that we’re apparently still paying no attention and not saving nearly enough of the wet stuff, I’ve now come to the conclusion that a lot of the locals simply don’t care.

I wonder how they’ll feel in 6 months time?

Getting things done

It’s a phat 5 years since I wrote about a possible degree of slippage in the City of Cape Town’s efficiency in responding to ratepayers’ issues and getting stuff done about them. Back then, I said:

…the city is becoming less Capetonian and more Joburgesque every day. The DA are slipping, but they know that they can afford to, because everyone can remember – and can still see – just how bad the alternative is.

Of course, these days Joburg is a DA city too, but that doesn’t mean that things here have really improved. Politically speaking, Cape Town remains so staunchly blue that there’s no real pressure for them council to repair potholes, power outages and the like promptly like there was when their governing future was in the balance.

Or maybe I’m just being cynical? But either way, the city’s response to local problems is simply not as good as it used to be.

There are ways around it though. So, in order to assist you in dealing with the system, here’s how I got the streetlights on our road fixed, in an easy 47-step process.

Note that many of the streetlights on our road aren’t working. Odd.
Email the council, with name, location and contact number, plus details of the problem.
Receive auto-reply email promising “a response shortly”.
Wait several days.
Re-email the council with name, location and contact number, plus details of the problem.
Receive auto-reply email promising “a response shortly”.
Wait a day.
Send council a message on Twitter, with name, location and contact number, plus details of the problem.
Receive prompt response asking for name, location and contact number, plus details of the problem.
Send council a message on Twitter, with name, location and contact number, plus details of the problem.
Receive all important reference number.

 

 

 

 

Wait several days.
Ask council (publicly) on Twitter for progress update on given reference number.
Receive prompt response asking for name, location and contact number, plus details of the problem.
Annoy wife by swearing out loud.
Send council a message on Twitter, with name, location and contact number, plus details of the problem.
Receive message on Twitter saying that they are following up on it and will revert when we receive information.
Wait 16 hours.
Come home after nightfall to find streetlights have been fixed.

SEAMLESS. 

Still, at least they brush up their grass clippings.

Good news, bad news

GOOD NEWS!
As of 0600 this morning (it’s Friday today, for those wondering), the Theewaterskloof dam has 5,476,628,400,000 more litres of water in it than its low point on Tuesday at 1200.

BAD NEWS!
That only equates to its volume being 1.14% up on earlier in the week.
Current level = 14.05%*.

 

And therein lies the message that there’s a long, LONG way to go yet till we’re out of this mess, folks. Keep saving water!

* Obviously, there will still be inflows that haven’t reached the dam yet, so this figure will rise a bit.

Wednesday storm update

It’s still coming, although if you looked out of your Cape Town window this morning onto clear blue skies and sunshine, you might not believe it.

But a quick look at the beautiful graphics here shows a wonderful lilac arc of TPW – Total Precipitable Water – making its way steadily towards our little corner of the continent at about 75kph.

And while we’re desperate for the rain, we shouldn’t underestimate the effects of the incoming weather. Be prepared. Make sure your gutters and drains are clear of leaves and debris, stay inside tomorrow unless you really need to go out, make a plan to help your local homeless person/people.

UPDATE: The Haven Night Shelters have 15 shelters across Cape Town and the Western Cape. You can “buy a bed” at one of those shelters for a person who would otherwise be sleeping outside tonight by donating here.

And be aware of who to call if you need assistance.

Beagle owners have been warned to look out for conditions like Tail Drift and Ear Flap. Smaller dogs should be sufficiently weighted if you plan to take them out for walkies rather than flyies. Cats are on their own, and that’s just how they like it.

Rainfall estimates are still between 50-100mm, according to the SA Weather Service, which has most of the province on high alert (ironically also for fires in the high winds ahead of the rain):

And Windguru agrees, adding winds peaking around 100kph at lunchtime on Wednesday, with swells of 11.7m by early on Wednesday evening. A reminder to stay safe if you’re going anywhere down the Atlantic seaboard tomorrow, especially around high tide (1430). Getting that photo is pointless if you are then washed away before you can upload it.

Batten down your respective hatches, Cape Town. Stay safe, stay warm.

Everybody’s talking about…

** Tuesday morning UPDATE: click here **

…the moerse storm which is due to make landfall in Cape Town late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Big storms are always big news, but because of our ongoing drought, this one is definitely more eagerly anticipated than most. It’s also arguably the biggest since this puppy hit us in August 2008.

Here’s the latest satellite image of our friend off the South West coast right now (0800 Monday): that dark area with a horn on it like some sort of malevolent unicorn.

So – some numbers:

Currently (Monday morning), Windguru is predicting 53.8 welcome millimetres of rain beginning at 11pm on Tuesday and continuing until Thursday evening.

Storm enthusiast Bryn de Kocks says:

The Boland area in particular seems likely to receive large amounts of rain, especially towards the mountain catchment regions where rainfall is likely to be heavier due to orographic effects. We should be able to expect rainfall measurements anywhere from 50mm to 100mm in the far SW Cape and Boland area.

And given the extreme nature of the deep low pressure area right now, this seems appropriate:

The rain is great, but I’m looking forward to the wind, which will be topping 100kph (Wednesday lunchtime) and which will be playing its part in generating swells of 11 metres (Wednesday afternoon/evening). Worryingly, this coincides with high tide on Wednesday (14:28), and with the moon almost full, there’s likely to be some flooding along the west coast.

Still, have camera, may well venture out.

Thursday looks to be the coldest day of the week with a chilly maximum of 12°C. So if you’re in Cape Town, wrap up warm and do your bit to try to help those less fortunate. And remember your emergency numbers:

  • Flooding, blocked drains and service disruptions – 0860 103 089 or SMS 31373
  • Electricity outages/disruptions – 0860 103 089 or SMS 31220.
  • Road Closures, delays on roadways and deviations – 0800 65 64 63
  • Weather Reports – Cape Town Weather Office (021 934 0749/0831), weatherline (083 123 0500), listen to alerts on the radio and television or visit www.weathersa.co.za
  • Emergencies – 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone

And look out for updates on Twitter and Facebook.