Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Last of the Cold Weather in Morocco?

Average temperatures in Morocco have been far colder than normal but now a change is coming and this week should see a return to the normal averages at this time of year. 

By Saturday Marrakech will be back to a range between 6 and 22 degrees Celsius. Fez will warm up considerably from last nights -2 degrees. Saturday should see a range between 4 and 17 or 18 degrees and plenty of sunshine.  Casablanca will also be cool but sunny - 13 to 17 degrees. Tangier 13 to 15 degrees and sunny.

Further ahead, the weather is expected to get slowly warmer although next week will see some cloud cover. By Friday week Fez temperatures should reach up to 19 or 20 degrees.

The average temperatures in January/February over the past few years.

Agadir:             21°c / 7°c 
Casablanca:      17°c / 7°c 
Fez                  16°c / 4°c 
Marrakesh       18°c / 4°c 
Tangier            16°c / 8°c 

The same weather system that has had such a devastating effect in Europe has been the cause of the lower than usual temperatures in Morocco and North Africa.

While the extra snowfalls in the High Atlas may be good for the Moroccan ski industry and a reservoir of water for the spring melt, Reuters is reporting a mixed reaction. Farmers in Algeria and Tunisia grateful for the drought-easing precipitation but farmers in Morocco are worried about frost.

NASA’s Terra satellite captured the image above on February 13 and the one below on January 14, Although some peaks of the Atlas Mountains had caps of snow in January, much snowier conditions prevail a month later.

Snow in Morocco is not unusual. Two ski resorts in the Atlas Mountains—one near Marrakech and the other near Ifrane—experience fairly regular snowfall each January and February. In fact, compared to conditions in February 2011, the snow cover this year does not appear that unusual.

The cold temperatures of February 2012, however, are threatening Morocco’s sugar beet and sugar cane crops, while  other parts of Africa and southern Europe faced unusually harsh winter conditions in February 2012. Algiers received the heaviest snowfall in living memory.

Snow cover in the Atlas Mountains serves more than Morocco’s ski industry. The snow provides a crucial reservoir of water for the country’s agriculture-based economy. Monitoring snowfall in this region is the subject of ongoing interest, in part because precipitation is uneven, and evaporation rates are high.

Our thanks to NASA for images and story details.


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