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Chilly weather keeps residents on their toes

by Staff reporter
16 Jul 2021 at 09:02hrs | Views
There was a hive of activity at the 5th Avenue market area in Bulawayo's city centre as residents swarmed the place commonly known as Khothama to buy second-hand jackets and jerseys to beat the chilly weather which was at its bleakest.

The city's streets and pavement were teeming with people geared up with warm hats, down-filled winter coats, scarves and gloves. The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) reported that yesterday was the coldest day of the week with a minimum of 10 degrees Celsius.

Parts of Bulawayo including the city centre were drizzling and motorists had a torrid moment as they struggled to drive through the crowded streets during peak hour. Firewood vendors in Emakhandeni recorded brisk business as people flooded the area. MSD head of forecasting Mr James Ngoma said yesterday was the coldest day of the week and today, temperatures are expected to improve.

"We have three temperature regimes. We have a minimum temperature which usually occurs during the early hours of the morning, particularly at around 3am or just before sunrise. We have maximum temperatures which occur during the day, with our maximum usually being reached at around 3pm or just before sunset in some areas," he said.

Mr Ngoma said the third category is called ground minimum temperature.

"This is the temperature of the ground and it is usually of concern mostly to farmers. Starting with the last, our current record for lowest ground minimum for Bulawayo stands at -9.1°C and this was recorded in 1923, which we term severe ground frost (below -3°C)," he said.

"This season has been more lenient as we have only had mostly slight ground frost (between 2°C and 0°C) and a few days of moderate ground frost (between 0°C and -3°C) as the worst-case scenario for Bulawayo. During this cold spell we are currently experiencing today (yesterday), we did not experience any ground frost."

Mr Ngoma said this year the city has not reached sub-zero temperatures. He also dismissed reports circulating on social media that yesterday's temperature was last experienced in 1923.

"The second category is our minimum temperature, which we call early morning air temperature when people would be in bed. Current record for Bulawayo is at -3.8°C, this was in June 1968," he said.

Mr Ngoma said this year the country has not reached sub-zero temperatures.

"We may attribute this to the moisture that is still in the ground and atmosphere due to the past good rainfall season. The third and most relevant to what people feel and experience during the day is termed the maximum temperature," he said.

"The lowest maximum, with social media rumours causing a false alarm for Friday (today) being the coldest. As MSD, our indications pointed to today (yesterday) being the coldest day this week, with Friday being much warmer."

The circulating message purported that today would be a cold day in Southern Africa with Bulawayo recording temperatures close to freezing point. The message caused panic among the public as they braced themselves for very low temperatures close to freezing point.

"This year we have been blessed not even below 15°C for Bulawayo. Minimums below 10 are normal during winter and we have had them almost daily since mid-May this year. Forecast temperature for Harare will be projected to a maximum of 17°C and Minimum of one while Gweru and Marondera will head below zero," said Mr Ngoma.

He said today will be sunny and mild everywhere with no record-breaking cold conditions expected. A Chronicle news crew visited Makokoba suburb and observed groups of people crowded around fires warming themselves.

"Today is extremely cold, we had not prepared for it since we heard that tomorrow would be extremely cold. In fact, since the onset of winter, we had never experienced such coldness and the drizzling actually made it worse," said Ms Ntando Dlomo.

Mrs Lindokunye Gumede said: "Tomorrow I will make sure that the children don't venture outdoors. I had not experienced such a cold in a long time but however, I have enough warm clothes to keep myself and family warm."

Ms Sikhumbuzo Dube, a firewood vendor, said business was good as people flooded to her stall.

"Today I had good business because of the weather as people came in large numbers to buy firewood," she said.

Source - chronicle

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