Posted on Thursday, 8 June 2017
As a person who has in one way or another been entirely dependent on the moods of the weather to make a living for my entire life I guess it comes as no surprise that really big weather fascinates and excites me. When most people are bunkering down I love nothing more than to get into the teeth of the weather and experience a good storm in all its fury. Savage weather is natural theatre at its rawest.
From a wildlife photography point of view I seek out venues and seasons where I have the best chance of dust, wind, clouds and any atmospheric phenomenon that will add drama to an image.
It is thus with huge excitement that for the past week various weather models have been forecasting a HUGE weather system heading towards Cape Town.
When you chase storms in the Cape, with a special emphasis on big seas, you look for three things which very seldom marry up with each other. Firstly big wind, secondly huge swell, and finally spring tides. If you have all three coming together you have a recipe for spectacular scenes and images.
The system that currently is starting to caress Cape Town with its first breaths have the makings of such a storm.
It’s truly a beautiful thing, first high Cirrus and Stratus clouds give warning of the approach of the beast, then tiny whisperings of the first gentle breezes as the winds backs into the NE.
Pressure begins to drop, wind starts to freshen and the first pulses of swell start reaching the Cape Coast after thousands of kilometers of carrying their pent up energy across the Southern Atlantic Ocean.
Now a giant looms over the Mother City, reminiscent of a cyclone with even a small eye situated a few hundred kilometers South of Cape Point, a swirling vortex of hurricane strength winds starts to lash us, pressure now under 1000 millibars and falling, big angry chunks of building sea starting to unleash bombs on the coast and horizontal and much needed rain pummeling windows and roofs all around the peninsula.
Looking heavenwards patches of blue sky appear and then close as wondrous clouds of all shapes and sizes paint the sky in all directions. Trees bend like yoga teachers and hail now adds a sting to the rains touch. Thunder announces the coming of the heart of the giant. The storm is now here in all of her visceral beauty, three hours till high tide, storm surge building and more menacingly, the swell. Millions of cubic meters of ocean in a jagged crisscross motion heading for the Atlantic seaboard. Millionaire’s pads and beach shacks all will be treated with the same hand on the spring high.
Disaster management is on high alert, schools are closed and the air force is on stand by, what for, who knows, as who can fly in this?
It is now time for breaking out clothes I usually only use in the Sub Antarctic and for testing my cameras weather sealing to it’s fullest, it is time to head out and scour the peninsula for scenes of savage beauty!
Whilst I am lucky to have a roof over my head I certainly know that many do not share my excitement of the approach of this storm and don’t for one second think that I do not feel for these people or animals out there, who are stuck in the middle of the storm and it’s torment, not by their own choice.
For me though,I have chosen to embrace it and have chased many such storms over the years. Some have been damp squibs and many more have downgraded just before making landfall but maybe this one will be different and live up to it’s billing of the biggest storm in 30 years!