30 January 2013

Namibia: Searing Heat Scorches Namibia

Windhoek — The heat has broken an all-time record high since 1960 with temperatures reaching a maximum of 37.3 degrees Celsius in Windhoek, while temperatures in the south are said to have reached above 40 degrees Celsius, according to meteorologist Isabel Kapolo of the Namibia Meteorological Services.

She said the heat wave will continue to scorch much of the country throughout the weekend and high temperatures would surge into the upper 30s and lower 40s, mainly in the central, northern and southern parts.

Kapolo said this year temperatures have been way above normal with a maximum average of 35.8 degrees this year compared to 31.2 degrees Celsius last year during the same period.

Weather forecaster Simon Dirkse said the scorching heat is a result of high-pressure systems in the atmosphere, which are causing air to sink and stay down with no air escaping, while temperatures keep rising. He said last year was different, since most of the country had already experienced rain by this time (January).

"We had a similar scenario [of heat waves] but it was for a shorter time compared to this year when the heat is prolonged," he continued. Dirkse said the chances for rain this coming weekend are very low but could not say whether next week would bring much-needed relief from the heat. "But in the long run there will be some relief," he added.

Kapolo said the rainy season has started in most parts of the country and although slow, it is expected to return to normal except in the west. She explained that the unusual weather was due to the warming of the oceans of the world, also known as the El Nino phenomenon.

Kapolo said it is impossible to tell whether the country is staring another drought in the face, at least until the current rainy season is over.

"The heat is going to persist," she said, warning especially the elderly and the infirm to stay indoors where there is flowing air or to be in the shade and drink a lot of water to rehydrate the body.

Meanwhile, the current heat wave that has engulfed Windhoek is compelling scores of people to flock to the municipal swimming pools, while others are rushing to shops to buy inflatable swimming pools. The Olympia swimming pool received at least 2 000 visitors seeking to cool off during last weekend, while the Western Suburbs swimming pool between Khomasdal and Katutura received between 1 200 and 1 300 visitors

The swimming pool in Olympia is able to accommodate 1 600 people, while the Western Suburbs pool can accommodate close to 1 300. Business is also booming in sports shops with many people buying inflatable pools for their homes. Game Stores sales person, Deon Louw, explained they were almost sold out on kiddie pools.

He explained that during December alone he managed to sell N$70 000 worth of portable and inflatable swimming pools in a single day. Most people chose to buy the bigger pools, he said, to accommodate both children and adults.

Sportsman's Warehouse in the Maerua Mall sold all of their smaller inflatable pools. According to a spokesperson at the outlet they only have bigger pools left in stock.

According to the weather bureau, the hot conditions will prevail until the end of the weekend, but a cold front is expected to move in from the southwest bringing in much needed cooler temperatures.

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