The link between the infamous Cape Doctor and Cape Snow.

The Cape Doctor - the Sou'easter blasting through False Bay
While the wind gusts scud across False Bay, the moisture laden air is driven over the land and condenses at higher altitude to form the “Tablecloth” seen here streaming over Elsies Peak and the Muizenberg Mountains.

The weather patterns are dynamic here; bordered by sea on both sides, the Peninsula succumbs to a boisterous maritime influence.  At this time of year we expect the Cape Doctor, (the south-easterly wind) to blow and last week the good Doctor arrived  in infamous form, striking with wild force.  Whistling down the mountainsides with accelerated katabatic force, some of the gusts registered as high as 130 kilometers  (70 knots) an hour causing chaos and disruption.

The wind is so named for it’s cleansing effect – sweeping away the  ills of air pollution, heat and unwelcome flying insects.  The downside is the path of destruction left in it’s wake.   Another famous aspect is the fabulous white billowing cloud,  dubbed the “Tablecloth” which is derived from the moisture laden air of the sea being driven over the land and then condensing as it hits the cooler temperatures while surging up the mountains.  It plays a vital part in delivering as much as 500mm of precipitation to the mountain tops, thereby replenishing the watertable over the dry summer months.

Cape-Snow, Syncarpha vestita
A broad swathe of Cape Snow, across the veldt at Cape Point Nature Reserve. Known in that vernacular as “Everlasting” for it’s sought after longevity in dried flower arrangements.

So how are the Doctor and  Cape Snow connected?  Here an example of “genius of place”,  show how a species can adapt to the harsh climatic and poor soil conditions, so that it thrives especially on this, the most exposed area of the South African coastline.   It’s an extraordinary fact that the Cape Floristic Kingdom, the smallest (in area) of the world’s six floristic regions, is also the richest.

10 thoughts on “The link between the infamous Cape Doctor and Cape Snow.

  1. The same phenomenon occurs off the coast of South America, where the fog rises over the altiplano of Chile, which replenishes moisture in an otherwise arid land. Great post! Informative as well as entertaining.

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