Coldest places in PMB

2017-07-10 14:46
Latest temperature  measurements show coldest areas in KZN's capital city.

Latest temperature measurements show coldest areas in KZN's capital city. (Graphics24, Theuns Kruger)

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An experiment measuring the coldest place to live in Pietermaritzburg revealed that the chilliest places around town at a bracing 5°C on the morning in question were between Woodhouse Road in Manor and Blackburrow Road in Hayfields.

This area was a whole seven degrees colder than near the Baptist Church in Town Bush Road, which measured a far more comfortable 12 degrees.

The experiment was conducted at the request of The Witness by UKZN agrometeorology Professor Mike Savage on the morning of July 6.

With July being one of the coldest months of the year, Professor Savage conducted an experiment just before the sun rose. The temperatures were measured between 6.09 am and 6.32 am with the route starting at the top of Town Bush Road next to the reservoir, past Cascades, under the N3 bridge, past the showgrounds, along Boshoff Street through to New England Road all the way to the top of Hesketh Drive.

According to Professor Savage’s experiment, areas along New England Road from Woodhouse Road to Blackburrow Road recorded the lowest temperature of 5°C.

The highest temperature recorded was 13°C at the Keg and Hedgehog on Town Bush Road. The temperatures gradually decreased towards the city centre and increased again at the top of Hesketh Drive.

Savage said the variation in air temperature across Pietermaritzburg on a cold morning is mainly due to topography, which is the characteristic valley or bowl shape.

“All things being equal, due to the reduction in atmospheric pressure with increase in elevation during the daytime, air temperature decreases with elevation.

“During the nighttime however, under low wind and cloudless conditions, there is a drainage of cold air towards the surface and then downslope to lower elevations,” said Savage.

He said the cold air drainage occurs because cooler air is more dense than warmer air.

“The decreasing nighttime temperatures with decreasing altitude may also result in the dewpoint being reached at a given elevation, resulting in saturated air and often mist or fog,” he said.

Savage explained that on cold mornings, the valley shape of Pietermaritzburg and the slow drainage of cold air results in the coldest temperatures occurring at the lowest areas near the centre of the valley, with increases in air temperature with elevation away from the valley bottom. He said this expectation may be altered somewhat by urbanisation and the activity of industry.

Savage said the average daily minimum surface temperature this year (March 1 to present) was 9,2°C compared to 10,2°C last year for the same period. The average daily minimum air temperature for the same periods was 11,9°C this year compared to 12,8°C last year.

In February last year Professor Savage conducted a similar experiment for The Witness to find the hottest place to live in Pietermaritzburg.

The experiment revealed that the hottest place to live in Pietermaritzburg was along Church, Langalibalele and Jabu Ndlovu streets, and in the vicinity of Merchiston Preparatory School. These areas reached a high of 37°C, four degrees higher than at the top of Town Bush Road.

WIKIPEDIA explains that dew point is the temperature to which air must be cooled to become saturated with water vapour.

“When further cooled, the airborne water vapour will condense to form liquid water (dew). When air cools to its dew point through contact with a surface that is colder than the air, water will condense on the surface.

“Dew point is sometimes called frost point when the temperature is below freezing. The measurement of dew point is related to humidity. A higher dew point means there will be more moisture in the air.” — WR.

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