Joel’s an all weather kind of guy

Athina May

For those of you in Milnerton who are using AccuWeather or another weather application or information service to decide what outfit to wear today, don’t.

This will no longer be necessary, as your neighbour and weather man, Joel “Guy” Chabata, will be able to tell you when it’s time to break out the wellington boots and coat.

Mr Chabata, who has been gracing our screens and predicting the weather on since 2009, has been hiding out in Milnerton area from his Twitter fans and foes who regularly tweet about his weather readings, or his choice of tie.

“I moved to Milnerton in 2011. I like it here and the traffic to town is not bad. I often take a jog on the beach – after I check the weather of course,” smiles Mr Chabata.

Mr Chabata who is originally from Zimbabwe, also does the weather on Cape Talk radio.

He initially started out as a physics teacher at Churchill Boys’ High School in Zimbabwe where he taught for five years before his life turned around.

“After I finished my physics degree at the University of Zimbabwe, the first job I could get was as a teacher. But in Zim there is a service which you register with after completing your studies. You register with the government and if a job comes up that matches your qualifications, they will contact you.

“When I got the call to become a weather man, I jumped at the opportunity because it came with a bit of travelling,” said Mr Chabata with a grin.

In 2000 Mr Chabata was sent to Melbourne, Australia, to complete a year-long training course to fill the position of weather man for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).

He returned and worked for the station for five years before the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe took a turn for the worst.

“It was a wonderful job. Back then it was a government to government arrangement because our government was friends with everyone then,” said Mr Chabata.

“I had a small printing business in Zim but things started going south, my customer base started to dwindle, so it closed down. But now my career has come full circle, from teaching to weather man, back to teaching, and becoming a weather man again in South Africa,” said Mr Chabata.

Seeking greener pastures, Mr Chabata headed for South Africa and got a job as a teacher at a school in Soweto.

He also applied at and SABC news for vacancies.

Eventually the opportunity opened up at and now seven years later, Mr Chabata is a familiar face in the homes of many South Africans.

“Time flies; I have been here for seven years and I love every aspect of my job; we do our own weather forecast. SABC gets theirs from the SA Weather Service. But we do our own forecast. There is no script.

“If I’m walking down the road and people ask me what the weather is, I know it, the maps you see on screen are just for the benefit of the viewer, I already know what’s going on,” said Mr Chabata with a wink.

He explained that weather patterns are digitally produced by weather stations across South Africa, and shows weather which has already happened, but the information gained from these weather readings is used to create charts which are used to predict the weather.

Digital readings are also available, but are not as accurate.

“Now with technology, observations are computerised. The computer does the calculations, but it does it on a global scale. So someone is still needed to look at what the computer says, because the information can be either overfocused or underfocused.

“AccuWeather is not very accurate; Al Jazeera also always misses the temperatures, because they use the computerised charts. BBC weather is more accurate,” said Mr Chabata.

When Mr Chabata is not predicting the weather, he is checking up on weather forecasts to see whether his predictions were a hit or miss.

“I check the forecast after, to see how we are doing. Now that I’m doing it for radio I have to be more accurate, as we look at smaller area sections.

“I would say rain will start late afternoon. When it happens, I get chuffed that I got it right. But it’s putting my head on the block,” laughs Mr Chabata.