Weather

Run of dry years diminishes Cape Town water supply

Ben Domensino, 29 January 2018

Cape Town is experiencing a significant and potentially life-threatening water shortage following a string of dry years in South Africa's Western Cape.

The climate of Cape Town is somewhat similar to Perth. Lying on the southwestern coast of South Africa, Cape Town is exposed to cold fronts coming out of the Southern Ocean. These fronts cause most of the city's annual rainfall to occur between April and September, while summer is typically warm and dry.

Unfortunately, this year's summer has followed an extended period of dry weather in the region and the seasonal dip in rainfall is being felt even more markedly than usual.

According to the South African Weather Service, the district that Cape Town is located in experienced its two driest calendar years on record during the last three years.

Only 499mm of rain was recorded last year, which is well below the long-term annual average of 820mm and makes 2017 the driest year since records commenced in 1921.

The prolonged lack of rainfall during recent years has taken its toll on Cape Town's water supply. The total water storage for the Cape Town region was just below 27 percent on January 25th, while the city's largest dam, which accounts for nearly half of its water supply, was below 14 percent of its capacity.

While heavy rain and flooding is likely to occur in some central and eastern parts of South Africa during the next week, Cape Town is not expected to receive much, if any, rain.

According to reports, city officials have warned that Cape Town's water supply may run out in a matter of weeks in response to the recent and near-future lack of significant rainfall.


- Weatherzone

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