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Total Solar Eclipse of 2001 June 21

Weather Prospects for Mozambique

Fred Espenak and Jay Anderson

Adapted from NASA TP 1999-209484 "Total Solar Eclipse of 2001 June 21"

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Mozambique is the cloudiest location from which to attempt to see the eclipse, but access to the track is relatively easy in western sections. One location, on the highway from Blantyre in Malawi to Harare, has already been mentioned in the section on Zimbabwe. The highway passes through Mozambique for most of the journey, along a route referred to as the Tete corridor. Proceeding from Blantyre, the highway first crosses the Zambezi at Tete over an impressive suspension bridge and then proceeds southward to Changara where it forks into southerly and southwesterly branches. Both forks cross the center line about 40 kilometers farther along. The highway through the Tete corridor is well traveled and in good condition, allowing easy access to the eclipse.

Farther east near the delta of the Zambezi, the highway from Beira to Quelimane reaches the centerline just south of the river. This appears to be a more difficult route as sections of the highway are under repair, and so the access to the track in the Tete corridor is likely to appeal to most travelers, especially those coming from the direction of Malawi.

June is the cool season in Mozambique, especially inland, though the climate is moderated by the easterly flow from the twenty-degree waters of the Mozambique Channel. The rainy season ends by April in the interior but may linger as long as June on some parts of the coast, especially over the Zambezi delta where the eclipse track exits the continent. And though it is 430 km away to the east, Madagascar has some considerable influence on the weather on the mainland. The southeasterly trade winds flowing across the island lose much of their moisture on the windward side and can recover only a part of the loss in the short trajectory over the Channel before reaching the coast of Mozambique.

The climate of Mozambique is primarily a lowland one, with higher precipitation, temperature, and cloud cover than the inland plateau. Cloud statistics in Table 17 favor areas near the coast, with lighter cloud in Quelimane and Beira than in Tete. Average sunshine is 8.4 hours per day at Beira, on the coast south of the track, but declines to 6.5 hours per day at Tete, 420 km inland. Satellite images show that most cloud in the area seems to form over the land, with much sunnier conditions over the waters along the coast. This is likely the reason that Quelimane and Beira have a greater amount of sunshine than Tete. However getting to a site on the centerline near the coast requires travel to Chinde from Quelimane for about 80 km along a poor road and there appears to be several small rivers or streams to ford along the way according to the Michelin map.

An alternative route has access from the Beira-Quelimane highway, turning south to Mopela, and then traveling along the north shore of the Zambezi for about 30 km to reach the center line. This location is best approached from the Quelimane side, as the road from Beira is under extensive reconstruction.

Temperatures along the lowlands of Mozambique are similar to the highlands but relative humidities average 10% higher. Winds blow steadily from the southeast in the winter, with small variations due to the effect of the terrain. Biomass burning is subdued in comparison with that on the plateau (Figure 12), and is concentrated around Beira and Maputo, sparing the shadow track south of Quelimane.

Quelimane has a very high frequency of fog overnight (over 25% in June) and may show a tendency to cloud over at the last moment before totality. This poses a bit of a dilemma for those willing to experiment with a beach site under the track near Chinde, since the favorable cloud climatology is partly undone by the potential for fog.

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Adapted from NASA TP 1999-209484 "Total Solar Eclipse of 2001 June 21". Permission is freely granted to reproduce this information and data when accompanied by an acknowledgment of the source:

"From Total Solar Eclipse of 2001 June 21 by Fred Espenak and Jay Anderson, NASA"

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WebMaster: Fred Espenak
Planetary Systems Branch - Code 693

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771 USA

Last revised: 1999 Dec 09 - F. Espenak