Roots 'n' Shoots: The Shroom’s Weather Report 2013/2014

Why is RnS Moving to

Google had brought out an algorithm update in May 2017. With previous updates like Panda or Penguin, Mr G had penalized blogs or websites with low quality content and those more focused on aggressive adverts (including multiple ads or pop-up ads in articles). However, many blogs/websites that weren't shady got penalized beyond recovery too and a lot of people lost their income. The May 2017 update has had wide-scale effect on blogs and websites, but without any explanation from Mr G as to why or what it does. RnS has been hit by it too and hard. RnS organic search stats (i.e. users from Google) have dropped by 75% since. Even though RnS is not a source of income, I tried to figure out why RnS is being culled. It seems that it doesn't really have anything to do with RnS per se, but likely because RnS is FREE and not paying for page ranking (via AdWords or Ad Ranking). Now it is likely being aggressively shoved to lower page rankings to accommodate the paid ads.

I cannot rely on Mr G anymore to get RnS' content where it is needed. So I am busy moving RnS to Wordpress where you can find me as Whisker Flowers @

I am also imposing 301 redirects from already moved posts and pages!

- The Shroom - (AKA Whisker Flowers)

Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Shroom’s Weather Report 2013/2014

*Cue music*

… da da da dum dum…

*Serious reporting voice*… Good morning and welcome to The Shroom’s annual weather report for the period of Winter 2013-2014.

Since the establishment of a mechanical weather monitoring system at The Shroom’s vegetable garden premises; several observations of extreme weather have been made and empirical data collected of these events with regards to precipitation (mm), temperature (oC) and humidity (% r.h.).

Mechanical weather station
Weekly temperature and humidity data were collected of maximum daytime temperatures during the peak hours of 11h00 to 13h00 and precipitation was measured in mm (or more accurately; the amount of rainfall in millimetres on a flat surface) after every rainfall event.

The results were as follows:

Temperature and Humidity for Roodepoort 2013/14

Temperature for Roodepoort 2013/14

Humidity for Roodepoort 2013/14

Rainfall for Roodepoort 2013/14


On a less serious note; I have been monitoring our weather patterns since Winter (~July) of 2013 with bare basic equipment – lately I have seen more sophisticated home-weather monitoring systems of the digital kind that even links to your computer and can make predictions! I would love to get my hands on one of those, but alas the garden budget does not support such endeavours…

Personal home weather station
Anyways, I thought I would share some of my observations for the year. Let’s start off with how South Africa’s seasons are formally divided and what is expected - then move onto my observations:

Highveld/Johannesburg Area ‘Official or Expected’ Seasonality
Expected weather patterns
August to Mid-September
Strong and cold southerly winds during August and frost expected till mid-September. First day of spring is 1 Sep and first showers are usually expected in September as well.
Mid-October to Mid-February
Dry and hot with rainfall from Sep/Oct to April. Maximum daytime temperatures 26oC during January. Average rainfall 713 mm per annum, mostly during the summer months and occur as brief afternoon thunderstorms. Hail storms can occur from October to December.
Mid-February to April
Hot weather prominent till end March when cold fronts start to chill the Highveld.
May to July
Dry and crisp with little/no rainfall, occasional shower can occur but usually with less than 1 mm of rain during a shower. Minimum daytime temperatures 16oC during June. Night temperatures can drop below freezing causing frost. Snow rare.  

Alright so the table summarised the average of what is expected for the Johannesburg area, but my vegetable garden is in Roodepoort and we have a prominent hill that dictates locate weather patterns. Here is an overview of Roodepoort and that hill (of which I don't know the formal name, so let's make it Roodepoort Hill)...

Roodepoort Streetview Google map
Roodepoort topology Google map
Orange: Roodepoort Hill
Green: Water Sisulu National Botanical Gardens

Now, I don’t think that our Roodepoort Hill is large or high enough to cast a “rain shadow” on either side, but our rainfall patterns (time and amount) differs from Johannesburg and Pretoria. I mean rainfall even differs within Roodepoort itself. For instance, I have some rainfall data courtesy of a local golf estate not far from us and we have hugely different rainfall and temperature patterns! Let me summarise my observations similar to the previous table:

Highveld/Roodepoort Area Observed Seasonality
Observed weather patterns
September to Late-October
I documented the last cold front in late Sep, hence the shift in seasonality, and there were some nasty cold August winds that did quite a bit of damage to early budding fruit trees. Maximum daytime temperatures only exceeded 20oC since Oct. First rains (above 5 mm event) arrived Mid-Oct.
Late-October to Mid-March
With the first rains came hail-storms, especially during Oct/Nov. On average <10 mm of rain fell during a rainfall event and more often a rain event would be 5-6 mm from Oct-Dec. From Jan-Mar rainfall occurred more often (average <15 mm) and 8-10 mm events would occur more often. The average maximum daytime temperature was 24oC, but several days reached 30oC during Nov-Jan. Average rainfall was 877.5 mm for the year, which is higher than average, but rain occurred mostly at night.
Mid-March to Mid-May
March was still very hot and the average daytime temperatures only fell below 25oC during mid-march. Daytime temperatures remained around 20oC for most of Autumn.
Mid-May to August
Average daytime temperature was 16oC with the coldest days from June to August. Some very windy days did some damaged to plants in the garden. Two showers occurred, but the rain was so marginal it could not be measured. Light to severe frosts occurred during August and September.  

Final Remarks: Extreme weather dominated summer and we had several events when I was certain that the vegetable garden had its last day, these were:

1) Three hail-storms were recorded, two had 1 cm hail stones and the last had 4-7 cm hail stones!! 

I was convinced that the veg garden was flattened but thankfully we only had a few casualties.

Hailstorm, summer 2012-2013
Nasty serrated hail!
Hailstorm, summer 2013-2014
Hail stone in the picture on bottom right is one of those 7 cm ones!

2) Floods had occurred during January and February because of 100 mm rain falling within 24 hours, that is 10x more than our average rain event! You can see it on my rainfall graph as two huge spikes!

So much rain fell that several herbs had to be emergency evacuated into the house due to threat of dying! The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden not far from our home reported that flood waters had caused damage and resulted in a monster waterfall there!

Rain refugees

Waterfall at Water Sisulu NBG on the (left) during floods and on the (right) full, but normal size 
For more info and videos on the flood and waterfall of Walter Sisulu NBG check out:

Other observations:

1) Some interesting correlations was that it was more likely to rain when the measured humidity exceeded 60% and that I would not have to water the garden for a day only after 10 mm of rain had fell.

2) No bees are seen at the basil when rain is imminent.

3) Hailstorm clouds are big, black, high off the ground and scary. They mostly come from a South-Western direction, whereas thunderstorms are dark grey and big, but not so high off the ground. Yet they bring rain down with such a force that sometimes leads to damage.

4) A shift in maximum daytime temperatures. I measured weekly daytime temperatures during 11h00-13h00, as this is our 'official' maximum temperature during the day, but this has shifted to 15h00-17h00. Although, my average daytime maximum is at 24oC on my graphs, we regularly had temperatures of 29-31oC in the late afternoon!

Just a quick note on frost dates for Roodepoort, but I imagine it would be similar for the rest of the highveld (Johannesburg, Pretoria and Gauteng). The first date of expected occasional frost is 3 May, whereas the first expected date of regular frost is 30 May. Thereafter the last date of expected regular frost is 25 August, but the last expected date of occasional frost extends until end September (30 Sep).

I have expanded my weather observations to forecasting by using the shape and colour of clouds (still trying to get the hang of it, will do a full post of weather forecasting using clouds at a later stage!) and I am also recording all the activity in the garden in terms of wildlife as well – be on the lookout of a Nature Watch post later in the year! 

That concludes our crazy weather for 2013/14, stay tuned for another update next year! 

*Serious reporting voice*
…Keep well and good night…


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