Soaking and shivering in southern Africa

  • The Namib Desert at Sossusvlei in warmer times. Photo: Suzy Harrison/PA Archive/Press Association Images

    A view of Namibia's capital, Windhoek. Photo: Alexander Johmann

    Rain over Melville, Johannesburg. Photo by "Jeppestown"

    A wet day in Johannesburg. Photo: Axel Bührmann

  • Soaking and shivering in southern Africa
    09.06.2011 08:56


    An intense low pressure system over South Africa brought torrential rain to the Southern Cape on Tuesday 07 June – and snowfall to the higher elevations of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal, and over the border in Namibia.

    In June the southern hemisphere is of course beginning its winter, and snow should not be all that surprising in South Africa. Indeed, there was significant snow only last year, although for some parts of the Western Cape it was the first for 20 years.

    Pictures of snow laying across higher regions of Namibia on Tuesday 07 June 2011

    Namibia is not very far south, with the Tropic of Capricorn passing through the centre of the country, and it does not generally get terribly cold. The average June minimum temperature is about 6 degrees Celsius at the capital city Windhoek, for example, while daytime maxima average around 20 degrees.

    However, much of Namibia stands on a high plateau, and Windhoek is at an elevation of 1700 metres above mean sea level. The temperature there only rose to a maximum of 10.3 degrees Celsius on Tuesday and fell to -2.6 degrees on Tuesday night.

    According to the Namibia Weather Network website the capital’s daytime temperature was the lowest in a decade. The lowest overnight temperature of -7.8 degrees that they noted was measured at a non-official personal observation site south of Waterberg in the Otjozondjupa region.

    Namibia is famous for the Namib Desert, probably the oldest desert in the world, after which it is named, and it is a rather dry country. In fact, June is one of its driest months, so any wet weather at all is rather surprising, never mind the intensity of some of the rain in the south.

    South Africa caught the worst of the rain, though, with the city of George in the Western Cape receiving 150mm on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. A number of roads were closed across the Western Cape, the Free State and Gauteng, including in Johannesburg, because of flooding, while a dam burst on the Klein Brak River.

    By: Stephen Davenport