One hell of a storm – that is the unofficial designation South African Weather Service forecasters have given the system moving into Cape Town tomorrow morning.

Gale-force winds of about 90km/h‚ 12 to 15m swells‚ and 80mm of rain are expected within a 24-hour window‚ putting city officials and forecasters on high alert.

“Residents should make real preparations for the storm and not take it lightly,” South African Weather Service (SAWS) communications manager Hannelee Doubell said.

“They should be prepared to stay inside their homes. Outside, they should tie down their belongings as we are expecting abnormally strong winds.”

Disaster Management Centre spokeswoman Charlotte Powell said they were on standby by to minimise damage should the cold front become dangerous.

City officials will also be on high alert to ensure that all roads are safe.

“Our NGO partners are ready for humanitarian relief,” Powell said

“We have plans to evacuate people who are based in high risk areas to emergency shelters if it becomes necessary.”

Warnings were issued for several areas in the Western Cape including the Winelands‚ Cape Metropole‚ and the Overberg district.

Forecaster Thabisile Ntleko said damaging winds‚ high seas and flooding could even result in loss of life.

The expected severity of the storm has been overshadowed by months of insignificant rainfall, resulting in one of most severe droughts in Cape Town’s history.

“There are concerns around flooding and damage to infrastructure‚ but we believe we are prepared to handle that,” mayoral committee member Xanthea Limberg said.

“What the city needs is rain and we welcome this weather. The city and province need substantial rainfall to recover.”

With dam levels at 19%‚ Limberg reiterated the importance any amount of rain meant.

“If we receive below average rain this winter it will take beyond three years for our water infrastructure to recover,” she said.

“This rain will help minimise the scarcity we face‚ but it won’t resolve the problem.”