March 2016 Climate Summary

The province experienced poor rainfall during the first half of March (mostly <10mm) which was followed up with relatively good rains during the rest of the month, especially more towards the southern coastal parts where the province again received most of its rain (slide 1).  Poor rains (<10mm) remained in parts of the Central Karoo, Cape Winelands and northern parts of the West Coast.  When comparing the same rainfall data with the long term means (Slide 2) we note above normal rainfall in the West Coast, Overberg, Eden and south eastern parts of the Central Karoo. The western side of the Central Karoo still experienced below normal rainfall.

slide 1


slide 2



Slide 3 contains data representing 35 weather stations consisting of total monthly rainfall, mean monthly maximum (Tmax) and minimum temperatures (Tmin) for March 2016 and long term means.  Below normal rainfall occurred in West Coast (Klawer, Vredendal, ect.) and in Central Karoo (Merweville, Prince Albert, ect.).  Half of the weather stations received less than 25mm of rain during March.


The monthly mean temperatures (slide 3) in March 2016 were lower than the historical long term temperatures (for both Tmax and Tmin), and lower (Tmax 3ºC and Tmin 1ºC) than February 2016.  Monthly Tmax means for March 2016 ranged between 23.3 (Riviersonderend) and 31.9ºC (Prince Albert). The monthly Tmin means ranged between 10.4ºC (De Keur) and 17.1ºC (Prince Albert).

 Download Slide 3 PDF


slide 3

Slide 3

The overall dam level for the province (slide 4) was 31% on 4th April (last year 49%), which decreased by 7 percentage points from the previous month’s figure. The Floriskraal Dam recorded the lowest water content at 6%.

Due to relatively good rains in areas, plant growing conditions (slide 5) in the West Coast showed temporary relief, meaning from distinctively below normal conditions during previous months to round about normal situation by end of March.  Contrary to the latter, the Central Karoo clearly showed poor conditions with the Little Karoo to a lesser extent.

slide 4

Slide 4

slide 5

Slide 5

Climate predictions

ENSO is clearly developing from El Niño towards neutral status (slide 6) within following months which can progress into La Niña state by end of this year.  The latter is normally associated with improved rainfall conditions in the summer rainfall areas of the country.


Seasonal forecasts for the period May to July (slides 7 & 8):  CCAM predicts normal conditions for rainfall and temperatures. However, SA Weather Services cautions that a large uncertainty exists in their forecasts in terms of temperatures and rainfall.  Less than 50% chance is predicted for above normal Tmax and Tmin in the province.  Greater probabilities exist for above normal rains over most of the province, while the south western coastal and adjoining areas indicate below normal conditions.  Due to the large uncertainty in forecasts, SAWS advises users to review updated medium and short term forecasts to identify any change.

slide 6

Slide 6

slide 7

Slide 7

slide 8

Slide 8

Links to images / maps / tables

  1. Monthly rainfall map
  2. Rainfall versus long-term mean map
  3. Climate data
  4. Dam levels
  5. NDVI map
  6. International ENSO conditions and forecasts
  7. SAWS Climate Forecasts
  8. 8. CCAM Climate Forecasts

Agri-Oulook March 2016

Download PDF Version of this information (Agri-Outlook March 2016.pdf)