In recent years, the world’s weather has been going a bit … well, weird, for want of a better word. Record breaking temperatures at both extremes, droughts and floods, heat waves and cold snaps, fires and blizzards, often in totally unexpected places – you name it, it seems to be happening! Here are some of the more noteworthy recent events in Africa’s part of that world.
1) Lightning Doesn’t Strike the Same place twice
Oh, yes, it does. In 2011 in Blouberg, Cape Town in South Africa, two friends were just sitting in their backyard watching a storm with a video camera running when they were startled out of their skin by a lightning strike hitting the ground just a few feet in front of them … and another one, in exactly the same spot, a couple of seconds later! No doubt they would not have been believed if they hadn’t got that video camera running, but since they did, the video went viral in no time!
2) Snow – in Egypt?!
Yep. In December 2013 (Friday the thirteenth of December 2013, in fact …) a sudden severe cold snap in Egypt caused several cities, including Alexandria, Madinaty and Cairo, to find themselves with a liberal coating of snow, several inches deep – something that hasn’t happened there for well over a century! In fact, two Mediterranean ports were closed due to the bad weather and in Aleppo, a northern city that’s being fought over by soldiers and rebels, both warring sides took a break from fighting because it was too cold for them to continue.
See Also: Top 10 Problems of Africa
3) Hail in Cape Town
In another shocking weather event, South Africa’s Cape Town got caught in the middle between two storms on Sunday 2 June 2013 – and the resulting clash left them with plummeting temperatures and a couple of inches of hailstones on the ground. Reported to have been the coldest day there “ever”, Cape Town really earned its nickname of “The City of Storms” that day!
4) Most lightning strikes per year
The Democratic Republic of the Congo holds the unofficial world record for the most lightning strikes in a year, at around 70 per km2. Fortunately it’s only in “parts” of the DRC, as those numbers over the whole country would work out at a couple of strikes a year in every single backyard in the country if it was consistently that high!
5) World’s Highest Temperature
Another weather record Africa holds to date is the highest temperature ever recorded – measured in El Aziza, Libya on 13 September 1922, it was recorded at 136ºF (57.8ºC), although some believe this was a recording error. It’s not a record that’s likely to be broken anytime soon, of course, although with the way the weather’s been recently you probably shouldn’t hold your breath!
6) The Hottest Inhabited Place on the Planet
You’ll have to admit it doesn’t come as a big surprise that this is a place in Africa – in fact it’s Dallol in Ethiopia, where the average daily maximum temperature during the six years from 1960 to 1966 was 106ºF (41.1ºC). Note, the *average* temperature, every day, for six years. So for each day it wasn’t quite that hot, on another day it was that much hotter… Dallol must have been hell on earth to live in during those years!
7) Deadliest Weather Disaster of 2011
This was the drought that hit East Africa after both the rainy seasons that year failed completely, leaving Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia in such a bad case that the UN officially declared famine there (the first time the UN has declared famine in thirty years). In fact, in parts of these areas it was the driest 12-month period on record. At least 30,000 children died, with the overall death toll thought to be much higher. In early 2012 more drought in the Sahel region south of the Sahara left millions facing malnutrition and starvation.
8) 2012 Floods
After facing drought in some parts of Africa in 2012, during the same year other parts went to the opposite extreme, with flooding in May (Rwanda) and October (Nigeria) causing massive damages and loss of life. One of Mother Nature’s little jokes, presumably.
9) Giant Metal Hail?!
Last but by no means least on this list of Weird African Weather Conditions is a hail of metal balls that fell from the sky! In May 2000, metal balls started falling from the sky and landing around the countryside near Cape Town, leaving dents 8 inches wide in the ground and leaving local farmers completely confused as to where they came from! Eventually NASA scientists admitted that they were bits of a Delta rocket launched in 1996 that had fallen from the glut of ‘space garbage’ now circling the earth, and promised that if anyone were hit by one, the US Government would compensate them.
Hmm – eight-inch metal ball, falling to the ground from outer space … if someone was hit by one, do you think they’d be alive to claim that compensation?!