The South African Weather Service (SAWS) sheds some light on the weather prospects from May 19 going into the coming weekend.

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) expects cold and wet conditions to hit large parts of the country from Thursday into the weekend.

According to a forecast compiled by Wayne Venter of the SAWS and edited by Kevin Rae, South Africans should take note of the following:

Widespread rainfall can be expected over the southern and central parts of the country from Thursday onwards, with light snowfalls likely over the mountainous, high-lying areas of the Western and Eastern Cape, spreading to the Lesotho Drakensberg regions by the weekend, where heavier falls are anticipated.

Light snowfalls can also be expected over the high-lying ground of south-eastern and eastern Free State. 24-hour rainfall accumulations of 25 to 35mm can also be expected over the drought-stricken parts of the Eastern Cape.

Moreover, there is the possibility of isolated severe storms, accompanied by strong winds and large amounts of small hail over the central and eastern interior, however the SAWS will issue detailed radar-based warnings in this regard, should the need arise.

Figure 1: 24-hour rainfall (mm) for South Africa on the 20th and 21st of May 2022. Source: Global Forecast System, NCEP (2022)

The upper-air trough will intensify during Thursday, causing widespread rainfall over the eastern parts of the Western Cape and the western parts of the Eastern Cape. A yellow level 2 warning for disruptive rainfall, resulting in localised flooding of susceptible roads and bridges as well as flooding in informal settlements, can therefore be expected in the aforementioned areas, spreading to the central and south-eastern parts of the Eastern Cape during Thursday.

Figure 2: Forecast rainfall probability (percentage) for 18, 19 and 20 May 2022, as well as the corresponding Impact-Based Warning for 19 May 2022. Source: SAWS

Thunderstorms, combined with strong, gusty surface winds are expected over the central interior by Friday afternoon, spreading to Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal in the evening and parts of Limpopo by Saturday. Warnings in this regard will be issued if necessary.

Due to the pre-existing condition of water-saturated soils in parts of KwaZulu-Natal, rainfall amounts exceeding 20mm are likely to lead to localised flooding. It is therefore important for communities to take the necessary precautions to prepare for such conditions.

Bitterly cold conditions are expected to move in over the western and southern parts of the country during Thursday, spreading to the central and eastern parts by Friday and Saturday. Maximum temperatures are not expected to exceed 14°C over the interior of the country, with maximum temperatures barely able to reach 8°C over the high-lying areas of the Eastern Cape, the south-western high ground of KwaZulu-Natal and the south-eastern and extreme southern Free State during Friday and Saturday. Small-stock farmers should be advised of these conditions and take the necessary precautions.

Figure 3: Predicted maximum temperatures for 20 and 21 May 2022. Source: Global Forecast System, NCEP (2022)

The SAWS will continue to monitor any further developments relating to this weather system and will issue subsequent updates as required. Furthermore, the public is urged and encouraged to regularly follow weather forecasts on television and radio.

Updated information in this regard will regularly be available at as well as via the SA Weather Service Twitter account @SAWeatherServic.

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