Brace for a chilly winter: El Niño brings extreme lows and rain

Gibson Mhaka

THIS year’s winter season may look drastically different from recent years as it is expected to bring extreme low temperatures and some rainfall due to disturbances caused by El Niño.

With cold weather predicted, people are being urged to follow simple measures to help keep themselves safe.

According to the Climate Prediction Center La Niña is characterised by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, compared to El Niño, which is characterised by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific.

“We anticipate that this year’s winter season is coming with extreme low temperatures and some rainfalls and this due to disturbances caused by El Nino. Let’s brace ourselves for some heavy to moderate rainfalls as this will come as a surprise to all who expected rains during the planting season.

“The term El Niño refers to a warming of the ocean surface, or above-average sea surface temperatures, in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. El Niño is often followed by La Niña. There’s a 75% chance that La Niña will develop by May–August 2024,” partly reads the warning. The cold spells will have negative effects on human lives.

For example, prolonged exposure to cold can eventually deplete one’s body’s stored energy, leading to hypothermia, an abnormally low body temperature. Hypothermia affects the brain, making it difficult for the victim to think clearly or move well.

“During this season most people suffer from severe to moderate flues and pneumonia as well. We encourage people to take vitamin C supplements as prescribed by medical practitioners and other homemade remedies and above all we encourage you to stay indoors and stay warm.

Exposure to colds increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks, even a short time in the cold outdoors can have a lasting effect.

“When it’s cold, wear a hat, mittens or insulated gloves, keep yourself warm with a scarf, neck tube or face mask, wear warm and waterproof foot wear, when it is very cold, or when the wind is significant, cover as much exposed skin as possible and move around but don’t be so active that you sweat.

“Do not use warm water bath to try to warm up, be careful with heaters and fires so you don’t get burnt, do stay hydrated by either taking tea or warm liquids, avoid salty foods, alcohol, coffee and sugary drinks which can be dehydrating, people must stay well alerted and updated to weather forecasts. We urge those who are economically privileged to lend a helping hand to the less privileged and vulnerable ones”.

The warning further reads: “Encourage children and those with underlying conditions to stay indoors during the cold spell. We are therefore urging people to start investing in warm outfits and we are encouraging clothing retailers to import more warm apparels as they will boost their line of trade during this period.

“To the motoring public, check your vehicle’s air conditioning systems are in good working order. To those who take alcohol please avoid intake of too many cold beers and avoid long distance journeys”.

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