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Seek shade. Eastern Cape heatwave expected to hit 50°

Image: James Day/Unsplash

Fifty degrees, Celsius!!!

This is the scorching temperature expected to be reached in parts of the Eastern Cape interior on Saturday – if winds remain light and humidity is at 40% to 50%.

Sports and other outdoor events are expected to be affected, and even stopped.

In a heatwave warning to the public on Friday, senior manager for the SA Weather Service Hugh van Niekerk said the critical factor affecting the expected high temperatures on Saturday was humidity.

If it hit 40% to 50%, it could drive “shade temperatures” of 38°C up to a scorching “46°C to 50°C” in the Sarah Baartman district municipality, Ngqushwa and Raymond Mhlaba municipalities.

The temperature in the shade in these areas is expected to reach at least 38°C in towns of Peddie, Makana, Alice, Fort Beaufort and Bedford.

At temperatures of 46°C to 50°C the official discomfort table bluntly states: “Serious danger. Stop ALL (sic) physical activities. Water intake is encouraged. Seek shaded, well-ventilated areas to cool down.”

At 54° the table states: “Death imminent due to heatstroke.”

Along the coast, humidity-affected temperatures could reach between 40 and 45°, but this could be regulated by the cooling influence of sea breezes and the lower temperature ocean.

Van Niekerk advised that all official temperatures released to the public were measured for the shade (ambient) and not outside where the energy of the sun and humidity increased temperature and discomfort levels.

The worst-hit areas will be in the western half of the province, but along the coast, at East London and Port St Johns, the latest forecast was for 31°C in the shade, and with humidity and no wind, possibly  32°C to 35°C. It is expected to be 34°C in Mthatha, Komani and Bhisho, and with humidity and no wind up to 38°C.

Van Niekerk said: “Extremely hot temperatures are expected in places over western parts of Eastern Cape. An upper high pressure system will dominate on Saturday with the (ambient) temperatures reaching the high 30s and low to mid 40s in places.

He said the upper high pressure system – the cause of the heat – was “nothing out of the ordinary”. It was associated with descending stable air resulting in high surface temperatures”.

Van Niekerk advised schools who are hosting sports events to suspend outdoor activities based on the official discomfort level table.

The table states that when the temperature hits between 40°C and 45°C “All outdoor activities are to be suspended. Danger. Avoid Effort. Encourage water intake. Seek shelter.”

The cooling influence of the ocean would depend on “the structure of the coastline (flat or hilly)”.

Some good news: a south westerly wind comes through the province on Sunday bringing temperatures down, said Van Niekerk.

Here were some other expected ambient (shade) temperatures for the province with possible humidity affected temperatures in brackets: Bhisho 34 (35), Aliwal North 30 (34), Port Elizabeth 36 (40), Uitenhage 38 (42), Cradock 37 (41), and Graaff-Reinet 38 (42).


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