MSD warns of heat wave, thunderstorms

Bulawayo Bureau

THE Meteorological Services Department has issued a heatwave warning, saying temperatures are set to further soar today before the country gets rains, starting with isolated thunderstoms in the southern districts from tomorrow.

Members of the public have also been urged to stay indoors and hydrated all the time to avoid health complications.

A heat wave is a period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity, and can range from 28 degrees Celsius. 

While definitions vary, a heat wave is usually measured relative to the usual weather in the area and relative to normal temperatures for the season. 

In the past days, many areas in Zimbabwe have been recording high temperatures, with the highest being Beitbridge at 45 degrees Celsius.

Meteorological Services Department forecaster Mr James Ngoma said despite the heat, isolated thunderstorms were expected over Matabeleland provinces from tomorrow onwards.

“It was mostly sunny across the country with some isolated thunder showers being recorded in both Matabeleland provinces and Bulawayo Metropolitan where the highest fall was recorded in Kezi (4mm). 

“Meanwhile the atmosphere continues to be relatively dry, although a cloud band over Botswana will start feeding in moisture through the western parts of the country which may lead to cooler temperatures on Wednesday,” he said.

Mr Ngoma said the high temperatures were normal for this time of the year, as heavy rains are expected to start falling at any time.

“People should stay indoors during this heat during the peak hours, which start at 10am to 3pm. Children should also be monitored and wear hats when playing.  

“Persons in malaria prone areas should take necessary precautions, which include spraying insecticides, applying mosquito repellents and sleeping under mosquito nets,” Mr Ngoma said.

An online weather forecast service called ZIMCAST, predicted that Bulawayo temperatures may reach 40 degrees Celsius today.  

“Maximum temperatures expected across Zimbabwe on Tuesday 9 November, 2021: Harare 37, Bulawayo 40, Masvingo 42, Victoria Falls 43, Gweru 42, Mutare 41, Kadoma 44, Kwekwe 43, Beitbridge 42, Kariba 43, Bindura 41, Chipinge 41 and Karoi 38. 

“The current heatwave is expected to peak on Tuesday across Zimbabwe and showers are expected to return this week, with some showers expected in the south-west on Tuesday and spreading across the country from Wednesday into the weekend,” read the ZIMCAST forecast.

ZIMCAST added that in general, showers that follow such extreme heat are associated with hail and thunderstorms.

The expected rains will be heavy at times, mainly over the weekend, according to ZIMCAST and it is not advisable for anyone to be outdoors during such storms.

“Members of the public should drink plenty of water, stay out of direct sunlight and avoid alcohol, energy drinks, carbonated drinks with sugar and drinks with caffeine. 

“They should consider eating light meals and avoid having large meals in one sitting. 

“Although temperatures will remain high in Zimbabwe right into next week, showers are expected to return by Wednesday, with rains forecast for most of the country from Wednesday through next weekend.”

Health expert Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said members of the public should increase their intake of water and avoid being outdoors as such heat waves are associated with health risks.

“Anyone can be affected by sweltering temperatures; anyone can suffer a heat stroke in such temperatures, although those members of the public suffering from non-communicable diseases can be affected more than others. Everyone should take shelter and drink plenty of water, more than eight glasses per day,” he said.

“The sweltering temperatures may also cause extreme dehydration and put many people at risk of deep vein thrombosis, which may result in sudden and catastrophic collapse.  These temperatures may cause burst tyres, posing a danger to motorists. Motorists must take extreme measures to avoid overheating tyres which can cause road traffic accidents.

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