South Africa – Residents of KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape have been urged to stay hydrated and prepare themselves for another week of battling the sun. Temperatures are expected to reach well within the thirties with no clear end in sight.
While there are some that will attribute this incredible heatwave to climate change, it might be simpler than that. Heatwaves like this is normally expected after seeing such heavy rainfall throughout the country especially in Gauteng, said Tokelo Chiloane, forecaster for the South African Weather Service (SAWS).
“These conditions are actually normal for us to have especially after a lot of rain. So, we have a period where it will be raining for a long period then you have a dry period. Depending on what the time of the months it is and how the weather systems are positioned, it can cause higher temperatures. That is what we are experiencing now hence we have that heat wave especially over KwaZulu-Nata and parts of the Eastern Cape province.”
The reason for the seven day forecast
The SAWS calculates the weather over a seven day period. Everyday starts a new seven day period. The seven day period forecast is relevant to everyday citizens but it is most relevant to farmers, said Chiloane. They need to know this information in order to plan ahead properly.
“It’s mostly relevant to people on a day-to-day basis. I believe most of our farmers tend to like the seasonal forecast rather than the day-to-day forecast. When we do have severe weather or extreme conditions like the heatwave, they do like that information so that they can plan ahead.”
The season forecast is provided by the SAWS. They have specialists who predict what the weather conditions will be like over a three month period, explained Chiloane.
Precautions to be taken during this intense heatwave
Our bodies are not accustomed to such high temperatures. Therefore the SAWS has asked all residents to take extra precaution to avoid suffering a heat stroke and becoming dehydrated. Staying out of the sun and keeping hydrated is extremely important.
“When we issue a heatwave alert advisory to the nation we advise that they should stay mostly indoors or in an air-conditioned room. Those who are working outside we advise them to wear protective clothing, take breaks regularly especially if you’re working outside in the heat. Avoid extraneous sports or engaging in excessive manual labour as much as you can. Dressing in cool lightweight clothes if possible and drink lots of water.”
Children are especially vulnerable during these time. Parents are advised to keep a watchful eye on their children. Ensure they are not running about in the hot sun but rather keeping cool inside, stressed Chiloane.
“We expect parents help children to stay indoors and I know for children, it is hard for them to stay indoors, they like to play whether it’s out or not. if it’s possible prohibit your children from playing outside between 10 am and 4 pm. That period the highest temperature of the day is recorded. For people who are aged and vulnerable, it’s very much important for us to give them extra care and attention. Give them a lot of water so that they can stay hydrated.”
With loadshedding in full effect, residents will have to look towards other measures that don’t require electricity to keep cool. The heatwave is expected to continue for at least another week and residents are urged to ensure they keep their bodies cool and hydrated to avoid having to visit the hospital.