New Continental Cold Record for Africa Discovered?

By: Christopher C. Burt , 7:28 PM GMT on July 20, 2012

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New Continental Cold Record for Africa Discovered?

A possible new candidate for the coldest temperature ever measured on the continent of Africa may have been uncovered.

The Moroccan national meteorology directorate has recently completed scanning and digitizing of many of its old climate records and made them available for viewing by the public. Temperature detective Maximiliano Herrera has reviewed these documents and noticed that a site in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco named Oussikis apparently measured a low temperature of -24.1°C (-11.4°F) on February 11, 1935. This occurred on the same day as the currently recognized African continental absolute minimum temperature record of -24.0°C (-11.2°F) was observed at Ifrane, also in the Atlas Mountains.



The beautiful Atlas Mountain Range of Morocco extends for about 600 km (400 miles) on a NE-SW axis in the heart of the country. Its highest peak is Jbel Toubkal at 4165m (13,352’). Photographer unidentified.

Oussikis rests at an altitude of 2,100 meters (6,890 feet) and Ifrane at 1,635 meters (5,364 feet) so the higher altitude of Oussikis lends credibility to the potential new record. The two towns are about 200 km (125 miles) from one another, Oussikis being to the southwest of Ifrane.



A map of Morocco showing the relative locations of Ifrane and Oussikis. Google Earth.

Fatima Driouech of the Climate Services at the Direction de la Meteorologie National of Morocco has noted that whereas Ifrane is classified as a ‘meteorological station’ Oussikis is classified as a ‘climatological post’. I believe this distinction is similar to the difference between a first-order weather site versus a COOP site here in the U.S. In any case, Fatima is looking into the reliability of the Oussikis data.

The cold wave that enveloped Morocco in February 1935 was without equal. Another site in the mountains between Ifrane and Oussikis, Assif-Melloul located at 2,200 meters (7,218 feet), recorded a temperature of -23°C (-9.4°F) during this same event.

Here is a scanned cover of the 1935 Moroccan data book and the two pages relevant to Ifrane, Oussikis, and Assif-Melloul.







I will keep you posted concerning any new information the Moroccan authorities may uncover concerning this possibly significant discovery.

In the meantime, the WMO review of Africa’s (and the world’s) hottest temperature of 58°C (136.4°F) at Azizia, Libya on September 13, 1922 is nearing its conclusion. Results should be released sometime in the next month or so.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

KUDOS: To ace temperature researcher Maximiliano Herrera

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11. Some1Has2BtheRookie
1:14 AM GMT on July 25, 2012
You have an excellent blog, Christopher. Your work putting this blog together is greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4768
9. Neapolitan
2:04 PM GMT on July 24, 2012
Quoting fiumeitaly:
Hello, thanks for your searching, lot of work. I agree that it is possible, that in some valleys temp. go deeper (snow-cover, clear sky etc.).
Now I wait for your investigation because of the highest temp. in Azizia: 136.4 F.
I have learned at the German Weatherservice, that this temperature was measured just in front of a sand-storm. Does anybody knows more about that?
And I just don´t know, in what shape the little
hut, where the thermometers are kept in, looked like!!!
Was it absolutely clean and coloured with fresh white paint???
So many questions. Difficult to answer. How good were those thermometers at that time???
I believe that Death Valley is one of the hottest places on earth. Even if NOAA tells us, they have measured temp. of about 70 degrees celsius with satellites. I believe, that the Death Valley also has such high temp. directly on the ground (sand or salt or gravel etc.) Wish I could go there an measure it with special thermometers.
Greetings to all of you,
Larry (Germany) Pardon for my bad English.
Hi, Larry.

Chris Burt had a great write-up here some time ago that addressed many of your questions:

QUESTIONS CONCERNING THE WORLD’S HOTTEST TEMPERATURE ON RECORD: 136.4°F (58°C) AT AL AZIZIA, LIBYA SEPTEMBER 13, 1922

I, too, am really looking forward to the release of the results of the investigation...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13743
8. fiumeitaly
12:53 PM GMT on July 24, 2012
Hello, thanks for your searching, lot of work. I agree that it is possible, that in some valleys temp. go deeper (snow-cover, clear sky etc.).
Now I wait for your investigation because of the highest temp. in Azizia: 136.4 F.
I have learned at the German Weatherservice, that this temperature was measured just in front of a sand-storm. Does anybody knows more about that?
And I just don´t know, in what shape the little
hut, where the thermometers are kept in, looked like!!!
Was it absolutely clean and coloured with fresh white paint???
So many questions. Difficult to answer. How good were those thermometers at that time???
I believe that Death Valley is one of the hottest places on earth. Even if NOAA tells us, they have measured temp. of about 70 degrees celsius with satellites. I believe, that the Death Valley also has such high temp. directly on the ground (sand or salt or gravel etc.) Wish I could go there an measure it with special thermometers.
Greetings to all of you,
Larry (Germany) Pardon for my bad English.
Member Since: July 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
7. Patrap
5:28 PM GMT on July 23, 2012
.."Sorry to be the bearer of some bad news, but..we may lose the Arctic in less than 10 Seasons now fella's"..



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129444
6. Neapolitan
5:24 PM GMT on July 23, 2012
Quoting maxcrc:


South Africa cannot get so cold to go below -20C (it gets just close), but Lesotho has indeed recorded a temperature below -20C in 1967. Lesotho has tallest mountains and even ski resorts with snow cover more constant compared to South Africa.
But Morocco with its Atlas has potentially even colder places than Oussikis and Ifrane.
I think some remote small valleys of dolines might get close to -30C, but those places are hard to reach in winter and far from inhabited villages.
Maximiliano H.
Excellent work, Maximiliano. Thanks for all that you do!
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13743
5. maxcrc
1:42 PM GMT on July 22, 2012
Quoting Soap2:
Aww you had me going for a minute there, I thought it was a *new* record, like it got really cold in S Africa or something.


South Africa cannot get so cold to go below -20C (it gets just close), but Lesotho has indeed recorded a temperature below -20C in 1967. Lesotho has tallest mountains and even ski resorts with snow cover more constant compared to South Africa.
But Morocco with its Atlas has potentially even colder places than Oussikis and Ifrane.
I think some remote small valleys of dolines might get close to -30C, but those places are hard to reach in winter and far from inhabited villages.
Maximiliano H.
Member Since: February 9, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 186
4. Neapolitan
3:44 PM GMT on July 21, 2012
Quoting Soap2:
Aww you had me going for a minute there, I thought it was a *new* record, like it got really cold in S Africa or something.
It did...back in 1935. ;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13743
3. Soap2
2:54 AM GMT on July 21, 2012
Aww you had me going for a minute there, I thought it was a *new* record, like it got really cold in S Africa or something.
Member Since: November 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 11
2. Neapolitan
8:10 PM GMT on July 20, 2012
I realize it was February, and that Oussikis is in a far northern part of the continent not so many miles from Europe, and that it sits at almost 7,000 feet--but, still, such a low temperature just doesn't jibe with my images of Africa.

I too look forward to the release of the results into the Azizia investigation...

BTW: Maximiliano Herrera is the man...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13743
1. chrisale
8:06 PM GMT on July 20, 2012
Cool!
Member Since: July 15, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 64

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About weatherhistorian

Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.