20 July 2005

Is South Africa experiencing hotter weather? Here's proof!

Yes, you're right ­this winter has been the warmest in decades and the Weather Service has the figures to prove it.

According to the service's Tracey Gill, the capital is experiencing its warmest mid-year spell in 30 years.

The city's daily average temperatures for June and July 2005 were on average 2 degrees higher than the average for the 30 years between 1975 and 2004.

Does this mean global warming is upon us?

"This is interesting, but not something we need to worry about yet," said Gill, assistant manager climate control at the SA Weather Service.

"If this happens again next year, then we can start panicking," she said.

Gill said the average maximum temperature for the first 15 days of July in Pretoria had been the hottest in the past 30 years.

The minimum temperatures are not showing as large a deviation, but they are still slightly warmer than normal.

"The reason for the continued warm temperatures in the city is that cold fronts move over the country during the winter months.

These cold fronts are usually followed by a high pressure system which `follows' the frontal system around the coast.

"When this happens, meteorologists refer to a `ridging anti-cyclone'," said Gill.

This winter, there has been a marked absence of strong ridging anti-cyclones and so the cold air is not being forced into the interior and the warm air has remained.

"Whether the inactivity of the ridging anti-cyclone is a function of global warming is difficult to say.

This said, it is no reason to become complacent about global warming issues, and every effort should be made to try to stem the rapid increase in global atmospheric temperatures. Adopting a `wait and see' attitude might not be the wisest course of action," said Gill.

What can we expect during the next three months?

Anything can happen.

It could even be bitterly cold in the next couple of days, and the red line of the graph could drop below the blue.

But broadly, according to Gill, we should prepare for above-normal temperatures in the northern and central parts of the country.

Peter Johnston, of the University of Cape Town, agrees that it will remain rather balmy in our neck of the woods: "The absence of cold fronts has blocked high-pressure systems and that is why the weather has remained milder than usual in the sub-continent."

The relatively warm temperatures have had an impact on the fashion world.

In some stores, winter garments have not sold as well as expected.

According to one clothing chain, some of its branches have experienced a dip in sales of winter clothes due to the warmer weather: Another clothing store in the city confirmed their winter merchandise sales had suffered a 10% decline, attributed to the mild winter.

But stores report that sales of heaters have been "about normal".

Source: www.pretorianews.co.za


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