Wild Week of Weather
Created On: 04/17/2009 21:13:21
So, here in South Africa and more specifically Cape Town- Severe weather is somewhat generally limited to cold fronts with thundershowers making a rare appearance about 5 days a year, and of these maybe 1/20 become severe. So you can do the math- that's about 1 day every 4 years a severe thunderstorm occurs. Not to mention the fact that cumulonimbus clouds alone are even rarer, well visible isolated ones. Our thundershowers generally come from a trough off the west coast and it pulls down a thick layer of altocumulus with a few cb embedded in it.
The past two days, 16-17 April however have been a dream come true... I've been photographing every slightly rare cloud formation as well as following every storm for the past 6 odd years and there's a few things that before this week I had never witness- 1. Roll Cloud, 2. Shelf Cloud, 3. Wall Cloud, 4. meso cyclone and 5. mammatus.
The synoptic conditions for the 16 and 17 were the same, with a sharp upper trough located just to the west which was pulling in moisture, this trough was then developing into a fairly weak cut-off low.
So here's what happened... I awoke on the morning of the 16th and decided to have a look at www.capetown-webcam.com which is located about 40km WNW of me. I looked at the webcam with a bit of doubt as it appeared there were some interesting mammatus looking clouds on the top right corner..I then got an email from another weather photographer in Cape Town confirming mammatus. So I scrambled out of bed and headed outside barely awake.. Looked up at the sky and saw some small, few mammatus to the NW... Knowing that this could be a once in a life time event for me I called into work and asked if I could come in a little late and work through my lunch. It was then up onto the roof as I waited for these beautiful clouds to form and form they did.
As they came closer they started becoming better defined with a great lighting effect at the time. In a space of twenty minutes I managed to take about 120 photos and watch this amazing series of mammatus pass by. It felt absolutely surreal and I thought I was dreaming- my hands were shaking afterwards.
Morning of the 17th I was awoken at 7 am by a rumble of thunder, headed outside and saw several isolated storm cells... As I waited for the one over me to pass I noticed some hints of mammatus and watched it intently... After a few minutes the storm had passed and more mammatus was forming on the dying anvil. Two days of consecutive mammatus... After over 40 years of no sightings of these clouds by the general public.
An amazing week for me , probably the best storm wise. The pictures and video of the event are in my gallery and video section