Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.
By: Christopher C. Burt , 7:28 PM GMT on July 20, 2012
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
KUDOS: To ace temperature researcher Maximiliano Herrera
Comments will take a few seconds to appear.