Lower Gweru in the midlands in Zimbabwe gets very cold in winter, but almost nobody believes that the current round of extreme weather photos on #Facebook are real. Facebook hoaxes are so common that it will take some convincing that these are for real. Zim #News Net has carried the story, with images sent in from one of their readers. The photos were apparently taken early in the morning. Their skepticism shows where they write the ‘snow’ fell in Gweru. When Zim Eye Media picked up the story, they called for more people from Gweru to send in photos and videos of the snow. They also said that this has never been previously recorded in Zimbabwe.
Memories of snow.
According to the internet, there are no reported records of snow in the country, which lies wholly within the tropics. But within living memory, there are a few people in their late sixties who claim to remember experiencing snow in the African country. One of the writer’s relatives recalls a snow-fall in about 1958 that caused the deaths of many goats and wild antelope. It reportedly also snowed in Zambia that year. He recalls hearing from this Father, now in his nineties, that it also snowed in around 1935. There is a YouTube video that allegedly shows a snow incident in Zimbabwe back in 2013.
Could it be hail?
It has been reported that when people in the Lower Gweru area woke up on the morning of 28 May 2016, that the snow was blanketing trees and rocks, but that the snow on branches and rocks melted fairly quickly. It is possible that the snow is not snow at all, and it looks like there might have been a great deal of very small, sleet-like hail that fell overnight. By three o’clock in the afternoon, the ‘snow’ had still not completely melted.
Bad news for poor farmers.
For the many poverty stricken people who live in Lower Gweru, if this is snow and if the images are for real, it could spell disaster. There are no insulated houses in the area, few power lines to bring electricity, and Africans in the area are not equipped with clothing to keep warm. Livestock are not corralled in barns and sheds at night, and if it is snow, many of the animals could die from the cold.
Accuweather reports that current morning temperatures are likely to be in the region of 8 degrees, but the wind-chill factor can take it as low as 6 degrees. This does not jibe with snow falls, even though the clouds in some of the images look verymuch like snow-bearing clouds.
Appear to be genuine Zimbabwean images.
If these images have been photo-shopped, it has been done very well. The details of the fences, the scenery and stock pens are very typically Zimbabwean. The newspapers originally received photos from an un-named person who claimed he took them on his farm near the central town of Gweru, which lies mid-way between the main city of Harare and the second city of Bulawayo in the west. Other images that have been posted to Facebook seem to have originated from a Facebook user who works in the area.
Facebook comments range from utterly convinced to outright rejection that the reports could be real. Americans are more familiar with snow events than African people. What do you think?