Which city blows up biggest storm?

Put an East Londoner, a Capetonian and a Port Elizabethan (couldn’t think of a better name for someone from there) together, and each will vigorously defend his home city from any suggestion that it’s the windiest.

The debate about which of these three South African seaside cities is windier, goes on ad infinitum.

I don’t know which of the three is the current “favourite” for the title – probably still PE – but 20 or so years back it was a close call.

However, after several visits to the Mother City back in the summer of 2007, I was quite happy to put my money on Cape Town.

But, Port Elizabeth is not known as The Windy City for nothing. The reputation of being windiest usually ends up with PE taking the gold medal – something its citizens desperately try to avoid.

But the actual answer back then, the SA Weather Service said after consulting their recorded material, was “maybe one, the other, or none of them!”

In the last weather service investigation of the era however, it was discovered Cape Point was the windiest PLACE, and Port Elizabeth the windiest CITY.

However, a network of automatic weather stations around the country is being expanded constantly and an addition at the time was Cape St Francis, which changed the picture considerably.

Weather service liaison officer in PE, Garth Sampson, said his investigation showed that wind was cyclical, although PE at the time was in a below average period.

Using data from a five-year stretch, the conclusion was that the wind blew more in East London, but that speeds were higher in Port Elizabeth.

Wind in Cape Town blew for a shorter period, but also at stronger speeds.

Two criteria for top five windiest were considered. The first was least percentage of “calm” winds (less than one metre per second or 3.6km/h). The order was 1, EL 0.9%; 2 Coega 1%; 3 Cape St Francis 1.1%; 4 Cape Point 1.6%; 5 PE 3.2%.

The next was highest percentage of winds above 8m/sec (29km/h): 1 Cape Point 41; 2 Cape Town Harbour 28.8; 3 Cape St Francis 24.3; 4 PE 17.7; 5 Cape Town Airport 14.7.

Notice: East London does not appear! We may get more days with wind, but PE and Cape Town have the windiest days, or strong wind days. Besides, a breeze along the coast, as here in East London, keeps temperatures cooler and is always welcome.

Strong winds are unpleasant, with PE and Cape Town owning that dubious reputation. Cape Town, especially can be uncomfortably windy in summer with the Cape Doctor, the south-easter, at its fiercest.

During Chiel family visits in December and January one year, the south-easter howled day in and day out and it was still blowing strongly when I was there, staying in Camps Bay, in March. You’d have thought on that side of the mountain it would be sheltered. Not a bit of it.

The south-easter came over the top of Table Mountain and dumped itself right on Camps Bay beach, sending sand flying, bending palms and tearing foam off the sea. It was most unpleasant outdoors and tourists nestled in a corner of the hotel swimming pool trying to snatch a piece of a watery sun and shelter from the gale. That’s Cape Town.

We can live with our wind; they cannot live in theirs. For me East London is “pleasantly” windy, but is certainly not the windiest.

Now for a bit of light-hearted humour: Farmer Pete was in the fertilised egg business with several hundred young laying hens, known as pullets and 10 roosters to make the eggs fertile. Any rooster that didn’t perform went into the soup pot.

Keeping check of which did what was an awful waste of time, so he bought a set of tiny bells, each with a different tone, and every rooster got one. Pete could sit on his porch and tell from there which rooster was doing what.

His favourite was Butch, a fine specimen, but one morning he noticed Butch’s bell hadn’t rung at all, so he went out to investigate. The other roosters were chasing pullets left, right and centre, but strangely Butch was holding his bell in his beak so it couldn’t ring. He would sneak up on a hen, do his job and walk away to the next one.

So Pete entered Butch in an agricultural show and he became an overnight sensation among the judges.

He was awarded the No Bell Piece Prize and the Pullet Surprise.

Ha, ha! – robinrosst@gmail.com

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