Throughout the summer a strong South East wind often blows over Table Mountain causing the famous and magnificent “tablecloth” effect.
The clouds appear to tumble over the edge of the mountain and then disappear.
It is beautiful but indicates very strong winds on the summit. The mechanism that creates this phenomenon is orographic. The wind blows across the surface of the Ocean and water evaporates. As that air is forced to rise to climb over the mountain the evaporated moisture condenses and so forms a cloud. As this air is then pushed over the mountain and falls over the edge above the city the water again evaporates.
This wind is also called “the cape doctor” as any pollution that might build up in the city bowl is quickly swept away and out to sea.
Often in these conditions the cable car is closed. Once the winds exceed +/- 35km an hour the cable car is closed so non hikers have no access to the plateau. Hikers of course can still climb and a good guide will know the more sheltered gorges and paths. On the plateau there is little escape from the wind but much of the mountain especially the “back of the mountain” is sheltered.
Lions Head is also a great hike when the wind is howling as it is sheltered by the mountain and so very little wind is experienced during the climb.