#WaterWatch

Why the shortfall in rainfall in the WC this winter?

Although the Western Cape has been experiencing much needed heavy downpours over the past couple of weeks, climatologists are saying it should be receiving more.

So why the shortfall in rainfall?

Climate scientist at University of Cape Town Dr Peter Johnston explain that there is a high pressure system to the west of South Africa that has, in the past few years been pushing the cold fronts - which carry prospects for rain - further south, away from the country. This means while we are receiving rain, there is a whole lot more from where that came from.

Read: Research probes citizens views on Cape water crisis

What happens is that air from the equator has to sink somewhere and it sinks about 30 degrees North and South of the equator. That sinking fry air is what is essentially high pressure.

Dr Peter Johnston, UCT Climate Scientist

As the seasons change these cells move further North and South. Some of this cells are over us meaning there is no chance of cold fronts coming around.

Dr Peter Johnston, UCT Climate Scientist

These pressure cells are shifting around and we don't know whether this is a long term thing, but certainly over the last three years we have realised that these cells have intensified and are hanging around.

Dr Peter Johnston, UCT Climate Scientist

Dr Johnston says it is certainly a concern that the cold fronts are not penetrating into the Western Cape as they should, although we are expecting a cold front to hit the Western Cape on Wednesday.

Dr Johnston says there is a theory that the intensification of the high pressure cells is caused by climate change, but that's difficult too prove.

The Western Cape still needs a substantial amount of heavy rains to get it out of the woods, says Johnston.

The City of Cape Town says the water restriction will remain until the dam levels reach about 80%.

To hear the rest of the conversation with Climate scientist Dr Peter Johnston, listen below:


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