Tag Archives: rain

Clouds!

Cotton Wool Clouds 1

Haiku 222

As empty as clouds

Cotton wool brain, stuck inside

Corona effect

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Cotton Wool Clouds 2

I was watching these fluffy cotton wool balls drift by one morning, as I sat outside having my cuppa. Though these particular clouds would not bring rain, we’re doing all right in Cape Town this year.

The dam levels are at 99.7%! Can you believe it?

These water reserves have to last us over the coming hottest summer months, until the next rains fall, a good six months away.

Three years ago in 2017, after lower than average rainfall several years in a row, the dams were at 37.6%. The levels dropped as low as 19% before we got rain.

Back then the whole world was pointing fingers at Cape Town and saying we would be the first major city to run out of water, on Day Zero.

Cotton Wool Clouds 3

I am very happy that we did not run out of water. By drastically rationing and re-using water, we averted disaster. The people of CT still do this, which is why the dams have filled up again so quickly; it’s not as if there have been really good rains recently. In fact, 2019 was quite dry; but by collectively altering our behaviour, we have triumphed.

So I could watch these fluffy clouds serenely, knowing that though they will not produce rain, the dams are already full!

 

Raindrops on Petals

Plumbago Raindrops 1

Haiku 115

Raindrops on petals

And brightly coloured flowers

My favourite things

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Plumbago Raindrops 2

With more than a nod to the Sound of Music and Maria’s Favourite Things, I present a mini study in raindrops on petals.

Plumbago Raindrops 3

 

post script: No we didn’t get more rain; this is from the other week. It only rained twice here in May. But it should rain tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

 

Honeysuckle Heaven

Raindrops on Honeysuckle

Haiku 114

Raindrops keep falling

Bow your head down thankfully

Capture each crystal

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We finally got some good rains! We’ve only had rain once so far this month and I was beginning to worry we were heading for another bad drought like we had in 2015, 2016 and worst of all, 2017.

I am sure my relief was equally matched by all the plants in my garden, as well as the parched land throughout the Western Cape. (Even though the weight of the raindrops made my poor red honeysuckle bow right down to the grass!)

 

All That Glitters

Raindrops 1

Haiku 110

Nature’s reminder

All that glitters is not gold

Sometimes it’s better!

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Raindrops 2

We had a little rain recently. My plants rejoiced.

Raindrops 3

Cape Town still has harsh water restrictions, even though the dams are 46% full, which is a huge improvement on last year’s 20%.

However, it has hardly rained so far this year. This is our rainy season and will be over in a few more months.

Raindrops 4

Let’s hope we get some good downpours of this precious substance, which in the photo above looks like quicksilver.

 

Unexpected Bounty

Rain on leaf

Plumbago 1

Haiku 91

Manna from Heaven

An unexpected shower

How very welcome

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Rain on blue petals

Plumbago 2

My blue plumbago bush was very happy to receive a little rainfall in the middle of the dry season. *Manna from Heaven indeed.

 

post script: The expression *”Manna from Heaven” means you get something unexpected and good just when you need it.

 

All Hail

Hail!

Haiku 71

All Hail! Little stones

Dancing on my patio

So rare yet welcome

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We had Hail!

It is quite rare for the conditions to be just right for it to hail here in Cape Town. However, after a storm raging all night at the weekend, we got this brief hailstorm in the early morning. It was great to watch the little stones bouncing on the slaster.

It seems we are getting our July weather after all – but in August!

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post script: The weather is odd right now. When a cold front passes bringing rain, the temperatures drop right down. It was 9 C reaching a high of only 11 C when it hailed, which is cold for CT. But the sun, when it comes out, is hot!

The sun has been returning for two months already. It is higher in the sky, much warmer than it was and around for longer in the day. It is very pleasant for Little Monkey and I to take a walk after a rainstorm, when the air is fresh and clear, and the sun warm on our backs. 

 

Day Zero – Now What?

Raindrops

Basically, Day Zero will not now happen in 2018, and probably not in 2019 either. Day Zero: the day the taps would be turned off in Cape Town, if the dam levels fell to 13%. See Day Zero and Day Zero – Update.

Weekly Drought Monitoring

This is because Cape Town received some rain this winter, mostly in May, with a little in June, virtually none in July (which used to be our wettest month!) and some this August, as you can see from the graph above.

Dam Levels 20 August 2018

The dams have just reached the 60% mark I was hoping for. Hooray! (You can see in the graph above that for this week in 2017 the dams were only 32% full!)

This puts us out of the danger zone for a while. The water should last us over the upcoming long, dry, hot summer months, until the next winter rains can be expected in May 2019.

However, all water restrictions are still in place and these are severe. Each person is allowed only 50 litres of water a day. Drinking water cannot be used for any purpose other than drinking and household requirements. You are not allowed to wash your car, water your garden or top up your swimming pool.

You can use grey water (dirty water, such as water already used for washing clothes or dishes, and unsuitable for drinking) to flush your toilets or water your garden.

Dam Levels 2014 to 2018

So what was all the fuss about then?

Well, if Capetonians had continued to use water at the rate we used to do, which was about 1.2 billion litres a day, we would definitely have run out of water (some time back in April this year). We now use about 500 million litres a day; a significant reduction.

There had to be “scare tactics” and strict regulations made. People who refused to reduce their water usage were heavily fined and had water metres fitted that would shut off the water supply to their property after their allotted amount was used up for the day.

If people had not been woken up to the facts and that queuing for water would be a very real possibility, most people would not have saved enough water. Sadly it is just human nature. “It rained yesterday therefore we have water.” “If there was a problem they’d switch the water supply off.” etc

What irked me in all this was the world view. I felt the rest of the world was pointing fingers at Cape Town and saying, “How could they be so stupid and not plan for this?”

I repeat again: It Did Not Rain!

2014 was fine, dams 100% full.
2015 less rain, but still fine.
2016 less rain again, but OK.
2017 hardly any rain at all!

As you can see from the graphs above and below.

Ten Year Graph of Dam Levels

Water Augmentation Projects were in place before the drought struck, but not for the immediate future, rather for 2020 to 2025. These projects are still underway with more proposed. Large desalination plants are very expensive! Water is being produced already, but nowhere near yet, to the 500 ML needed per day.

Water Augmentation

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By now everyone is used to the small amount of water they’re allowed to use daily here in Cape Town.

But it would be nice to take a shower for more than 90 seconds or have a bath in more than 2 cm of water!

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post script: The graphs shown here are for the week beginning Monday 20 August 2018. You can visit the City of Cape Town website for current information.

 

Day Zero – Update

Reflections – trees and sky reflected in the pool

Day Zero – The day they turn off the taps in Cape Town.

Some of you may have been wondering what is happening with Day Zero down here in Cape Town since my last post in February?

It hasn’t gone away entirely, but it has been postponed to 2019.

Typically, we get no rain over the summer months, relying on good winter rains to fill up the dams for the following summer. In April this year we got rain about twice; the same for May. When I say ‘rain’ it could be all of 0.1 mm!

But now it is starting to rain a little more often and a little more heavily. We got a whole 1 cm one week and just the other day we got 2 cm in a few days. Hooray!

I am talking about the rainfall in my garden. If we’re lucky it does rain more in other parts of the Cape and hopefully more so in the catchment area, to fill up the dams, as you can see below.

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Dam levels and comparisons.

Dam Levels Over Ten Years

The above graph shows the total dam levels over the course of one year, starting at January, week 1, for a period of ten years (each line is a different year). As you can see where I have indicated, the dam levels for all the years 2009 to 2014 were consistently good.

It is only over the last three years, 2015 to 2017 that the dam levels have dropped significantly, when we did not receive good winter rains.

I’d like to point out here how well Capetonians have been saving water.

If you look at the gradient of the graph from the top left down to the lower points, (week 1 to week 20, this is from January to May/June) the dam levels fall as water is used and there is no rainfall.

You’ll notice that every year follows the same kind of downward slope of about 20 degrees, until you get to this year, 2018, the thick red triangle line. The slope for 2018 is about 10 degrees, which is half as steep.

This is because everyone has made such a great effort to save water.

This is what has kept us from reaching Day Zero so far.

Percentage Water Stored in Dams

Above you can see how the levels of the dams fluctuate over the years, reaching their lowest points just before the winter rains. You can see that from 2014 to now, the dams have simply not filled up enough, as the winter rains have been so poor.

Levels in Each Dam – Graphs

The above graph shows the levels in each of the major dams from 2014 to the present, for the week beginning June 18th. The last two diagrams are nearly identical as they are just a week apart.

Levels in Each Dam – Percentages

The above diagram shows the same information as the graph, but in percentages. You can see that on this date in 2014 all the dams were still practically full, with the levels steadily decreasing from 2015 to 2017. However, the recent rains have increased the levels this year to such an extent that the dams are now fuller than they were in 2016.

Day Zero Tracker

The above graph indicates more than anything just how successful Capetonians have been in saving water.

The yellow area is the critical zone. If water usage fell below this, Day Zero would be implemented. The taps would be turned off and we would have to queue for water at designated areas. The dotted black line shows the actual water usage and by stringently saving water we have kept above the yellow danger zone.

You’ll notice that suddenly in May the dotted black line shoots upwards. This is because it rained.

If – and this is still a big if – we get good rains over the next two months we might avoid Day Zero in 2019.

I think it is unlikely the total dam levels will reach 60%, which would be a safe amount to last us through next dry season (September to April.)

We are still on Level 6 water restrictions: 50 litres of water per person per day.

There are adverts in the papers encouraging people still to stay within these limits.

Newspaper Ad

Toilets in many shopping centres or restaurants have replaced soap in the dispensers with hand sanitiser and the taps have been turned off, so there is no water.

Save Water – Hand Sanitisers

I saw a comment on a YouTube clip about CT and Day Zero where someone thought 50 litres was a lot of water and you could easily live within this.

Well you can live within it, but it isn’t easy. For example one machine wash of clothes on the best water-saving cycle uses 40 litres of water (nearly your whole daily ration). You also have to wash your hands, prepare and cook food, wash dishes, wash your hair and yourself!

Still, being extremely careful and re-using every single drop, you can stay within the daily limit of 50 litres.

Nevertheless, I am getting very weary of scooping every last drop of water out of the sink or bath tub and lifting heavy buckets of grey water to flush the loo, or carrying them down the passage and out into the garden to water my thirsty plants.

I will end up with arms like Arnold Schwarzenegger!

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post script: Now it is raining more I don’t have to water the plants so much. Phew!

I find my Readers rarely click on my links (I hope due to time constraints and not lack of interest!) so that is why I included screen shots of some graphs showing the dam levels. 

If you wish to have more information on the graphs in this post, you can click on this link: City of Cape Town Website. 

Once again, this post took many hours to complete. Maybe next time I’ll just post a photo of cake!

 

Storm Front

Red Skies 1

Haiku 58

A beautiful sight

Clouds amass in red sunset

Presage to a Storm

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Did you know that Cape Town is referred to as The Cape of Good Hope?

Did you know it is also referred to as The Cape of Storms?

Red Skies 2

We get some tremendous gales down here at the tip of the African continent. We are the first outcrop of land to take the brunt of those Antarctic storm fronts that come rushing in from the south west.

We are used to it.

When we talk about it being a bit windy, you can be sure the trees are bending furiously in the gales and your breath is whipped from your body when you walk abroad.

Red Skies 3

This year we are particularly grateful for each and every one of these storm fronts that actually does hit our coastline.

Last year, time after time, they passed by south of us, taking their tantalising rain clouds with them.

Last year was the third year in a row that we received a lower than average rainfall and the drought hit us hard.

So far, this year promises to be better. Already we have had more rain than the same time last year. The total dam levels in Cape Town are at 26%. This time last year they were at 19%.

And Capetonians are continuing to save water like crazy. We are still limited to a maximum of 50 litres per person per day.

This is what has saved us; so far.

We can only hope that our rainy months of June and July fulfill our expectations and the dams replenish enough to last us through to this time next year.

Bring on the storms!

 

post script: You can read about how different our winters were back in 2014, in two of my early posts: Give a Dog a Bone and Cape of Storms.

 

Through the Looking Glass

Through the Looking Glass 1

This is an untouched photo. So what is it, if I haven’t been playing around post production?

Well, it’s a very rare phenomenon. Something we don’t see that often here in Cape Town. Something we thought we might never see again!

RAIN!

Specifically, it’s a close up of my window with rain running down the outside of the pane and the poinsettia in the garden in the background.

Through the Looking Glass 2

Here is a view of the syringa tree.

Of course, you would have guessed sooner if, instead of a nod to Lewis Carroll and Alice, I had gone with my alternative title: Looking Through the Glass!

Yes, we got good rains on Wednesday; one centimetre. Heavy enough to soak the garden and even raise the level of my pool a little.

Hooray!

Through the Looking Glass 3

Above is Window Pane Art!

Little Monkey didn’t know quite what to make of it. She kept wanting to go outside, as she normally does all day long, but stopped two steps out on the stoep, hanging her head and blinking her little eyes as the heavy rain drops spattered down on her. She turned round and came straight back in again!

More rain is forecast for next week. I wait with anticipation to see if any of this will finally raise the level of the dams. The total amount today stands at 20.6%. 

I have never watched the weather so much my whole life as I do now. Several times a day I check the Norwegian weather site’s ten day forecast, in the hope that rain for Cape Town has miraculously appeared there.

Through the Looking Glass 4

Many of you in the North may think the above photo is such a dreary outlook; I’m sure you are all heartily sick of your cold, wet or snowy winter. For me, it was a sight for sore eyes. I couldn’t stop looking outside, or standing at the open door and enjoying the freshness.

I’m also happy to report that it rained without my having to resort to doing a Rain Dance in a grass skirt, as suggested by one of my fellow bloggers. (Thank you Mitza!) Though I think another blogger may have Rain Danced on my behalf. (Probably not in a grass skirt!) (Thank you Scooj.)

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GOBBET

Here’s an extra little bit of information for you. We had fires raging in Cape Town a few days ago. The first I knew was the acrid smoke I could smell right here in my house. (Quick check to see there was nothing burning in the house!) It made my eyes sting and water, and stuck in the back of my throat making me cough. Being asthmatic, I may overreact to any air pollution, but still, it was bad. Looking outside, you could see that distinct yellow tinge to what looked like clouds, but was actually smoke.

One of the fires started at Skeleton Gorge above Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. At first it was thought that it was arson. Sadly a lot of fires are started this way.

However, further investigation revealed that this particular fire had natural causes; a massive rock fall. Apparently some large boulders had come loose and crashed down the mountainside, causing sparks as they hit other rocks. This was enough to ignite the bone-dry grasses and veld. Fire!

The firefighters are amazing and quickly extinguished that fire, only to have it flare up again and again over the next few days as it spread to other areas.

So the good rains on Wednesday were very welcome. Hopefully they have put out the fires for good now.

We live miles away from those fires and it was bad enough here; I can only imagine how horrible it was for the people living right there and the poor firefighters themselves.

I am surprised we have not had more fires, with our hot temperatures and the vegetation so dry from the drought. Hopefully we will get even more rain now as we head into winter and our rainy season.

But if any of you wish to perform a Rain Dance on our behalf, please feel free!