The Harmattan

The Harmattan. Image by  Kafkaesqublog

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Prevailing Winds in Southern Africa

  • The eastern parts of Zimbabwe about 200km from the port of Beira and on average Zimbabwe is about 400km from the Indian Ocean, the closest ocean to the country.
  • Due to its proximity to the ocean and the fact that land has a lower specific heat capacity when compared to the Ocean (i.e. the land always cools faster than the Ocean), most of the prevailing winds affecting Zimbabwe have an easterly direction.
  • Most notable are these are the South East Trade Winds which blow from the Indian Ocean.
A map showing the major winds of Southern Africa

A map showing the major winds of Southern Africa

South East Trade winds

  • A trade wind is a wind that blows from one region to another.
  • The South East Trade brings drizzle and light showers.
  • They cause cloudy conditions in winter and clear weather in summer.

Zaire/Congo air otherwise known as the South West Trade Winds

  • The winds come from the Atlantic Ocean (west of Zimbabwe) towards Angola and Namibia and divert from Zambia to Zimbabwe.
  • They come into Zimbabwe via Angola,DRC (formely Zaire hence the alternative name of the air mass) and Zambia due to the intense low pressure region created by the ITCZ during the summer months in the southern hemisphere.
  • They absorb a lot of moisture from the Zaire Basin and forests.
  • They are extremely moist by the time they reach Zimbabwe.
  • They bring in a lot of rainfall especially to the northern parts of Zimbabwe.
  • They are associated with a lot of continuous rain which might result in flooding or crop destruction due to rotting.

North East Monsoon

  • A monsoon is a seasonal wind.
  • The N.E Monsoons blow during the summer and bring rainfall in the northern parts of Zimbabwe during the months of December and January.

Ocean Currents

In addition to the above winds there are ocean currents in Southern Africa that affect bot weather and climate as well as human activities.

A map showing ocean currents in Southern Africa

A map showing ocean currents in Southern Africa. Image by  Stockmd

1. The Warm Mozambican current.

  • An ocean is a is continued flow of ocean water.
  • The Warm Mozambican current flows parallel to the coast of Mozambique and the Island of Mozambique.

2. The Agulhas current.

  • Flows parallel to the coast of Mozambique.
  • Is mad up of the Mozambique current and the East Madagascar current.

3. Benguela current

  • Flows along the coast of Mozambique

4. Angola Current

  • Flows along the coast of Angola.

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