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20.04.2006 General News

Heatwave Is Natural Phenomenon

The heatwave being experienced in the coastal areas of the country is the result of the fact that the sun is closer at this time of the year and its rays are beaming directly on those areas, the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has said.

The Meteorological Officer in charge of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), Mr Ayilari Juati, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that apart from that fact, there also was a lot of moisture in the atmosphere which trapped heat and reflected it back into the atmosphere.

The situation, he added, had nothing to do with the recent solar eclipse which occurred in the country, as was being speculated.

For the past few weeks, people in the southern part of the country have been complaining of excessive heat, both during the day and in the night.

In Accra and Tema in particular, some people carry hand-woven fans to fan themselves during the day and handkerchiefs to wipe the sweltering sweat, while others sleep in the open in the night.

Some taxi drivers have also switched to working in the night because they claim that apart from harassment by security services during the day and the fact that traffic during the night is minimal, the excessive heat during the day results in the overheating of their engines.

Speculations are rife that the heat is the result of the eclipse of the sun which occurred in the country on March 29, 2006.

What fuelled the speculation that there was something strange about the phenomenon was the apparent heat in air-conditioned rooms and offices.

Mr Juati explained that the sun, which was currently moving from the southern hemisphere to the north, was presently positioned “5.6 degrees north” and the rays were not hindered in any way from reaching the coast.

“The rays take a shorter time to reach us and are not obstructed in any way,” he said.

He said by August, the atmosphere would become cooler because the sun would have moved away and its rays would not beam directly on the south of the country.

Mr Juati said the hinterland was not experiencing the heat wave because the sun's rays did not radiate directly onto those parts and also because it was raining there.

He added that the coast, including Accra, would soon “have its fair share of the rain”.

“The systems are beginning to form and anytime from now we will have the rains. We are at the threshold of the rainy season and we should expect normal rain,” he said.

The Executive Director of the Centre for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Services of the University of Ghana, Legon, Dr Emmanuel Amamoo- Otchere, corroborated the statement by the MSD and said “the sun has crossed the Equator and is directly overhead the earth's latitude”.

“Since it is closer, the intensity of the heat can be felt. It is not because of the eclipse,” he added.
The Deputy Officer in charge of the MSD at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), Mr Amos Narh, urged residents of Accra to keep the drains free of rubbish and silt to enable water flow through them when the rains began.

He said floods occurred in Accra not because of the intensity of the rains but because the drains were always choked.

Story by Mark-Anthony Vinokor

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