Heatwave in northwest Africa


A large autumn Atlantic storm system has been circulating off the coast of Morocco. It has brought a near constant west-southwesterly wind to the Azores island of Santa Maria. This is a difficult 36 kilometres per hour crosswind for the island’s airport.

Such persistence creates a good swell over the ocean which has been a joy to surfers who have been enjoying the gigantic rollers off the Portuguese coast. Fishermen have not been so keen.

Large areas of low pressure bring both wind and rain. Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Algeria have all received both elements and are used to it in October.

Mauritania is not so used to it. In the mining town of Zouérat, the average rainfall for October is 5mm. Water is obtained here from a regular arrival of tankers.

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Thunderstorms were recorded in Zouérat for at least 24 hours from Tuesday afternoon. And yet only 1mm of rain was actually recorded!

Another unusually notable effect of this churning depression in the ocean is near record warmth over land. A desert wind has been induced from the western Sahara, across northwest Africa and into southern Spain.

The result was a heatwave in Algeria and Morocco. Oujda, in northern Morocco close to the Algerian border, hit 33C on Monday. Its October record is 37C but average only 25C.

Bejaia, on the coast of Algeria, recorded a tremendous 39.5C on Tuesday which is within half a degree Celsius of the October record. It is a full 15 degrees above average.

In the Tunisian city of Beja, the temperature of 37C measured on Wednesday is within 3 degrees of the October record and 12 degrees above average.

The system is slowly weakening and withdrawing its rain, but the hot breeze continues for another day or two across Morocco.

Credit: Al jazeera

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Heatwave in northwest Africa

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