You are here: Archives News Archives Seasonal Climate Watch : February to June 2018
With the Ingwelala region being exceptionally dry John Llewellyn includes a summary of the latest medium-term weather forecasting from the South African Weather Service:
The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is expected to remain in a weak La Niña phase through to early autumn (Feb-Mar-Apr). This suggests above-normal rainfall is to be expected later in the summer rainfall season which can extend towards early autumn for the far north-eastern parts of the country. Some caution is advised however, as circulation over the equatorial Pacific Ocean does not resemble a typical La Niña phase and as such introduces a minor amount of uncertainty in the current forecast.
Potential flooding events then remain a concern through early autumn. It is advised that early-warning systems from the South African Weather Service be followed throughout the end of the summer season as well as the start of autumn for the north-eastern parts of the country.
Lower temperatures on average are also expected throughout the early autumn period, as consistent cloud cover and rainfall events are expected to be more dominant than usual. In contrast however, the south-western parts of the country are still expected to experience higher temperatures on average during the late autumn season.
The South African Weather Service will continue to monitor and provide updates of any future assessments that may provide more clarity on the current expectations for the coming seasons.
2. Discussion: State of Climate Drivers
2.1 El Niño-Southern Oscillation
Observations show that ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) is now in a weak La Niña phase. Forecasts suggest that it is likely for this weak La Niña to continue through early autumn. A La Niña event typically enhances rainfall activities over the summer-rainfall areas of South Africa if the circulation over the equatorial pacific is strong enough.
2.2 Indian Ocean Dipole
The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) forecasts indicate neutral conditions during the autumn season and is not expected to have any influence during this period. The IOD, both tropical and subtropical, can enhance moisture transport towards the continent during positive phases and degrade this transport during negative phases.
2.3 Southern Annular Mode
The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) has been consistently positive the last months and is expected to remain positive for the coming weeks. If the positive trend continues through to early winter, it may cause a slow start to the winter rainfall regions.
3. Climate Forecast Details
The forecasting system indicates above-normal rainfall over the far north-eastern parts of the country as well as over parts of the interior during early autumn (Feb-Mar-Apr). It is expected that the total rainfall for these areas would rather be more frequent rainfall events than more intense events. During mid- (Mar-Apr-May) and late autumn (Apr-May-Jun), the south western interior are expected to experience above normal rainfall, and parts of the Western Cape to receive below-normal rainfall totals.
by John Llewellyn