Clustering of extreme winds in the mixed climate of South Africa

Kruger A.C. ; Goliger A.M. ; Retief J.V. ; Sekele S.S. (2012)


A substantial part of South Africa is subject to more than one strong wind source. The effect of that on extreme winds is that higher quantiles are usually estimated with a mixed strong wind climate estimation method, compared to the traditional Gumbel approach based on a single population. The differences in the estimated quantiles between the two methods depend on the values of the Gumbel distribution parameters for the different strong wind mechanisms involved. Cluster analysis of the distribution parameters provides a characterization of the effect of the relative differences in their values, and therefore the dominance of the different strong wind mechanisms. For gusts, cold fronts tend to dominate over the coastal and high-lying areas, while other mechanisms, especially thunderstorms, are dominant over the lower-lying areas in the interior. For the hourly mean wind speeds cold fronts are dominant in the south-west, south and east of the country. On the West Coast the ridging of the Atlantic Ocean high-pressure system dominate in the south, while the presence of a deep trough or coastal low pressure system is the main strong wind mechanism in the north. In the central interior cold fronts tend to share their influence almost equally with other synoptic-scale mechanisms.

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