Expect a Mild Winter

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The public’s concerns that winter will be icy cold, given the pouring rains that drenched many parts of the country, are unfounded. Experts say Namibians should only brace themselves for a mild winter. For most people, the weather and rain outlook this year has been exceptionally different from previous seasons due to heavy rains experienced throughout the country. The coastal towns surprisingly also had heavy rain. However, dispelling the public’s concerns of a colder winter, Chief Weather Forecaster at the Windhoek Meteorological Service Riaan van Zyl said there was nothing unusual about the weather outlook and that winter will also not be colder than is usually anticipated. “Often the question being asked is can we expect a cold winter and the answer is no,” said Van Zyl in a recent interview with New Era. He explained that according to numerical models, the climate outlook for the next three months of May, June and July slightly warmer than normal temperatures, about 1 to 2 degrees above normal. In actual fact, Namibians can expect a “mild winter” season this year. Due to the high pressure system from the tropical zone moving southwards, the cold front from the arctic moving towards to the African continent will either be weak or far to the south. This in turn ultimately results in a much milder winter. Taking a reflection of the recent heavy rainfalls recorded at LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, weather experts stated that the above normal rainfall occurred as a result of the abundance of tropical moisture over large parts of the country. “During the rainy season, moisture moving south over Namibia depending on the position of the surface trough normally move over western Namibia or close to the west coast,” explained the weather expert. This moisture is the one that precipitated the persistent heavy rains that the Chief Meteorological Technician Sepiso Mwangala at the Windhoek Met Office says is not unusual rainfall, as such showers have cyclical patterns. “Rainfall variability varies all the time and it’s never the same, but there is nothing unusual about these patterns because in January 2004, Namibia also experienced very heavy rainfalls,” said Mwangala. It happened that the coastal rain is not a common phenomenon. Mwangala noted that one event of heavy rainfall can therefore not be interpreted as terribly unusual, because it has happened several times in the past, for example in 1934 and 1976/1977, among others. On the other hand, it cannot be noted conclusively that such weather patterns are associated with climate change as thorough years of research have to be undertaken to determine that as an appropriate contributing factor. But for now, Namibia seems to have most of its dams filled up and underground water systems in conducive shape, which should cater for water demand in the country. However, fears are that due to the rise in demand for water due to an ever-increasing population, and as much as the aquifers are full at the moment, they are quickly being depleted. That’s why it becomes imperative for Namibians to become fully engaged in water-saving measures.