Many of the coastal areas in the Western cape, especially around Cape Town, are known for very forceful winds. Severe storms, linked to cold front and low-pressure systems, moving from west to east, occur mainly during the winter months in the south-western Cape. A frontal system or an inland cut-off low pressure system may have a surface wind gusting up to 100 kph or higher.

Gale-force winds may blow for a number of consecutive days during the summer months. Known as the “Cape Doctor”, these south-easterly or southerly winds can reach up to Gale-force in strength, usually blowing on clear, hot and sunny days and they are characterized by the “table cloth” over Table Mountain and the Hottentots-Holland mountains to the east of Cape Town.

Wind Map – Larger South-Western Cape

Use the scale below to help you identify the wind speed:

Beaufort Speed (kph) Speed (knots) Description Effects on land and sea
0 < 1 kph < 1 knot Calm Still, calm air, smoke will rise vertically. Water is mirror-like.
1 1-5 kph 1-3 knots Light Air Rising smoke drifts, wind vane is inactive. Small ripples appear on water surface.
2 6-11 kph 4-6 knots Light Breeze Leaves rustle, can feel wind on your face, wind vanes begin to move. Small wavelets develop, crests are glassy.
3 12-19 kph 7-10 knots Gentle Breeze Leaves and small twigs move, light weight flags extend. Large wavelets, crests start to break, some whitecaps.
4 20-28 kph 11-16 knots Moderate Breeze Small branches move, raises dust, leaves and paper. Small waves develop, becoming longer, whitecaps.
5 29-38 kph 17-21 knots Fresh Breeze Small trees sway. White crested wavelets (whitecaps) form, some spray.
6 39-49 kph 22-27 knots Strong Breeze Large tree branches move, telephone wires begin to “whistle”, umbrellas are difficult to keep under control. Larger waves form, whitecaps prevalent, spray.
7 50-61 kph 28-33 knots Moderate or strong Gale Large trees sway, becoming difficult to walk. Larger waves develop, white foam from breaking waves begins to be blown.
8 62-74 kph 34-40 knots Gale or Fresh Gale Twigs and small branches are broken from trees, walking is difficult. Moderately large waves with blown foam.
9 75-88 kph 41-47 knots Strong Gale Slight damage occurs to buildings, shingles are blown off of roofs. High waves (6 metres), rolling seas, dense foam, blowing spray reduces visibility.
10 89-102 kph 48-55 knots Whole Gale or Storm Trees are broken or uprooted, building or Storm damage is considerable. Large waves (6-9 metres), overhanging crests, sea becomes white with foam, heavy rolling and reduced visibility.
11 103-117 kph 56-63 knots Violent Storm Extensive widespread damage. Large waves (9-14 metres), white foam, with visibility further reduced.
12 118+ kph 64+ knots Hurricane Extreme destruction, devastation. Large waves over 14 metres, air filled with foam, sea white with foam and driving spray and little visibility.