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March 2017 Climate Summary

The province experienced poor rains during March this year (slide 1), mostly less than 10mm.  However part of the southern coast received somewhat better rains, round about 50mm.  When comparing the rainfall to the historical long term means (slide 2), the whole province indicated below normal rains during March, of which most of the area (red & orange) showed 50% of the normal rains.    

Data from 38 weather stations are presented as total monthly rainfall, mean monthly maximum (Tmax) and minimum temperatures (Tmin) for March 2017, including corresponding historical long term means (slide 3).  The overall mean rainfall for March 2017 (calculated as the average of the 38 weather stations) was 5mm, meaning 26% of the long-term mean rainfall for March.  Similarly, half (18) of the weather stations recorded total monthly rainfall ≤3.6mm, of which 12 weather stations indicated ≤1mm to no rain.  Conversely the highest monthly rainfall of 32mm (long-term 56mm) was recorded at the Outeniqua Research Farm at George, followed by a farm near Mossel Bay registering 17mm (long term 64mm). 

Slide 1


Slide 2


The monthly mean Tmax of the weather stations ranged between 24.9 (Outeniqua) to 35.1 ºC (Citrusdal), resulting in Tmax being 1.7 ºC higher than the long-term (long-term average ranged between 24.5 to 33.6 ºC).  The overall average Tmax of the 38 weather stations was 30.6 ºC, being 1.6 degrees higher than the corresponding long term mean.  Nearly all of these weather stations indicated positive (monthly mean) Tmax anomalies (monthly Tmax vs long-term ≥ +0.5 ºC), of which the highest monthly anomalies (2.5 to 3 ºC) were recorded at Porterville, Rawsonville, Oudtshoorn and Swellendam.

Monthly mean Tmin of the same weather stations ranged between 10.2 (Murraysburg) to 17.4 ºC (Prince Albert) with an overall average of 13.6 ºC, all three figures corresponding reasonably well with the long-term figures.  Monthly mean Tmin anomalies at about 20 weather stations indicated to be negative (≤ -0.5 ºC), with the most extreme anomaly (-1.7 ºC) being recorded at Citrusdal.

The state of provincial dam levels (slide 4) dropped to an overall average of 24% (last year 31%) on the 3rd April, indicating a further decline for most dams in the province.  The water level of the largest dam in the province, the Theewaterskloof Dam, was 21% (last year 33%).


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Slide 3

Slide 3

Due to the persistent below normal rainfall accompanied by high maximum temperatures, current growing conditions in the province deteriorated further (slide 5), causing further concern especially with regard to the drought affected parts of the province.

While ENSO remains neutral, it appears El Niño to return later this year, resulting in possible dry conditions in the summer rainfall areas.  According to SAWS, statement released 24-March, above normal rainfall and above-normal temperatures are forecasted for the Western Cape for the period April to June (chance of about 40%).   Due to high uncertainty in forecasts, users are advised to regularly review updated medium and short term forecasts to identify any intermediate change.

Slide 4


Slide 5


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Agri-Oulook March 2017

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