The “berg” wind – our proudly South African wind

The “berg” wind – our proudly South African wind

Hot gusty and dusty winds have buffeted parts of the Western Cape since Saturday. Blowing into Cape Town overnight, we woke up to a very warm early morning temperature and we knew that we were in for some unusual weather. The dust made for a blood red sunrise, which created eerie lighting, and soon the thunder rolled in and a few heavy raindrops briefly fell – not enough to offer the warm earth much reprieve.

Coastal lows in the Cape are often preceded by what we refer to as a “berg” wind, the South African name for a katabatic wind. This is a hot, dry wind which blows in from the interior escarpment, down from the high central plateau to the coast. The rise in temperature during a berg wind can be astonishing. During the winter of 1985 a temperature change of 24°C was recorded within 30min, when temperatures increased from a cold 3°C to a very warm 27°C between 7am and 7:30am.

This hot off-shore berg wind is usually followed by cool onshore winds which bring low cloud, fog or drizzle to the region. Occasionally, if coupled with an approaching cold front, a berg wind may be followed by substantial rainfall.

While it is hard to believe right now, it looks like we may be in for some cold weather! So enjoy the warm wind while it lasts, as tomorrow is set to be significantly cooler and rather damp.


Sarah-Leigh Watson

After qualifying with a BA in Journalism and African History from Rhodes University, Sarah went on to qualify as a FGASA registered Game Ranger where she spent time in the South African Lowveld pursuing her passion for wildlife photography and nature conservation. Sarah joined TMF as a private consultant in 2011, to manage the Fund’s communications and marketing needs. Having grown up in the shadow of Table Mountain, Sarah is deeply passionate about the conservation of the mountain and the broader Cape Floral Region.