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Cape Town Prevailing Wind

Southeaster - 'Cape Doctor' - Prevailing Westerlies...We Name Them!

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In summer our Cape Town prevailing wind direction is from the South East. The 'Southeaster' is the wind known to blight a family beach day by greeting you with a mini sandstorm at toddler height - guaranteed to give rise to wailing dismay!

prevailing wind

However, don't despair. This same wind (also known as the Cape Doctor, because it blows away the urban cobwebs of smoke and pollution) can be defeated with a little background knowledge.

Almost every day is a beach day somewhere on the Peninsula :)

Summer Prevailing Winds

In summer a romping SouthEaster blowing in from False Bay means that Table Mountain will don her famous tablecloth and the longer, open beaches will be inhospitable.

By the same token, it will likely be dry - the Southeaster seldom brings rain along for the ride.

Activities like hiking, biking and kite-flying are all advised, as the temperatures are kept moderate by the moving air.

Beach-going is only advised on the sheltered Atlantic beaches like Glen or Clifton - avoid the wide open spaces of Fishhoek, Noordhoek Long Beach or Camps Bay. Paragliding, Hiking in the forests

Similarly, a dead-calm day is often followed by a light sea breeze from the West bringing in cool, damp air off the Atlantic. In this case, the Atlantic beaches are miserable and misty, but Gordon's Bay on the far side of False Bay may be superb.

The Southeaster can reach gale force quite easily at Cape Point, which calls for a change of plan. If the wind is going to be gusting beyond 35km/h I generally aim to spend the day indoors somewhere!

Winter Prevailing Winds

The Cape winter brings the prevailing westerlies, or North Wester.

This is the wind direction that blows the huge frontal storms in off the Southern Atlantic and led to our home be named the Cape of Storms back in the day.

Take a look at Sea Point Promenade after a storm here and here.

No one minds a little wind, do they?

Of course not! But you do need to plan for it. There's no point in being blown away when a little forecasting would have saved you the hassle.

Most years we have a couple of spectacularly windy summer days, and the local papers are full of pictures of people holding onto lampposts for dear life!

One year a double decker bus blew over on the Foreshore in the CBD!

Rule of Thumb

If the wind speed is forecast to be over 35km/h, I plan to be indoors!

If you're determined to go out, Kirstenbosch is a great spot and sheltered from the South Easter. Boat trips round the harbour will still be ‘doable’, as will Winelands tours.

And if the wind has you beaten, there are always the indoor things to do in Cape Town!

You may find the following related pages helpful:
Cape Town Weather Forecast
Cape Town Weather
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