14 Jul 2023
Roll up your sleeves and shovel - that was the motto for the friends of the Wild Horses in Aus in southwestern Namibia. Fierce sandstorms had raged in the Namib Desert for three days. The watering places for the horses at Garub, about 20 km west of Aus, were completely silted up.
Staff from the Namib Garage, Bahnhof Hotel and Klein-Aus Vista tourism enterprises had their hands full yesterday. After they had cleared the water points for the horses again, they had to move and sweep the sand out of the shelter and toilets for the visitors.
The phenomenon of oosweer (Afrikaans: east weather) with its strong winds from the east is not unusual, but this time it turned out to be extremely severe. It is caused by a low-pressure system off the coast that sucks in air from inland.
The 'great escarpment' between the high plateau of the inland and the plains of the Namib acts as an amplifier. Because the air drops hundreds of metres there, it accelerates and warms up. On its way through the desert, the constant storm stirs up dust and sand (see also Wikipedia).
Wind speeds of up to 100 km/h were measured near Lüderitz (see Facebook post by Gondwana Collection Namibia). Because of the sand the storm then mutates into a giant sandblaster. Coastal residents keep doors and windows tightly closed on such days. Car rental companies have already reported extensive damage: many windows and rear-view mirrors have to be replaced and rental cars repainted.
The fierce easterly wind also prevailed in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. In Sossusvlei, only particularly hardy visitors climbed the world's highest dunes. The clay pan lies relatively close to the escarpment, where the wind is particularly strong after falling from the inland plateau.
Namibia thus experienced two extremely pronounced weather phenomena within a very short period of time. The exceptionally abundant winter rain in the southwest of the country with 150 mm in three days was barely a fortnight ago.
Author: Sven-Eric Stender
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