Record-breaking temperatures for Chiredzi, West Nicholson

Herald Reporters

The scorching heat sweeping across the country since the last few days has resulted in areas like Chiredzi in Masvingo and West Nicholson in Matabeleland South recording extremely high temperatures that broke records set in 2010.

The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) told The Herald that between Tuesday last week and Monday this week, Chiredzi recorded 47,6 degrees Celsius from a previous record of 44,4 degrees Celsius in 2010, while West Nicholson had 44,3 degrees Celsius from a record of 42,8 degrees Celsius in the same year.

The MSD said a decline in temperatures over Matabeleland South, Masvingo, southern areas of the Midlands and southern parts of Manicaland and Bulawayo was now expected.

It said Matabeleland North, Harare, northern parts of the Midlands and all Mashonaland provinces should continue experiencing hot conditions, and urged citizens to take lots of fluids and wear light clothing.

MSD public relations officer Mr Tichaona Zinyemba said it remained unclear when effective rains were coming, despite the isolated heat storms, and urged farmers to undertake non-rain dependent activities such as land preparation.

Mashonaland Central provincial chairman of the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) Mr Cosmas Chiringa said the water situation was now dire in some parts of the province due to excessive heat.

“Although we are still to receive any reports of deaths, people being hospitalised or losing property to veld fires caused by the excessive heat, we have activated all our systems to be on the ground and monitor the situation,” he said.

In Beitbridge, high temperatures have resulted in water vending, with a bucket going for $5 or R5 while 1 000 litres of borehole water is selling for R100 or $100.

Matabeleland South Provincial Meteorological Officer Mr Rogers Munyira said temperatures had been rising to over 35 degrees Celsius, with the highest being 46,8 degrees Celsius recorded on Monday, “which is a bit out of the ordinary for Beitbridge”.

In Matabeleland North, Agritex provincial officer Mr Dumisani Nyoni said they were assessing the impact of the heat, but noted vegetables were succumbing to moisture stress.

Mr Nyoni said poultry farmers could lose layers if the heat continued, while some farmers had already lost cattle in Binga and Nkayi.

Reports of people being attacked by crocodiles are surging as they seek to cool themselves, he said.

In Victoria Falls, some hotels and lodges are being overwhelmed by residents keen to use swimming pools, which are reserved mostly for tourists.

In the Zambezi Valley, temperatures soared to 44°C from Saturday to Monday.

In Kariba and Chirundu, temperatures are said to have risen to 47°C, with some residents resorting to sleeping outside to escape the sweltering night heat.

Kariba District medical officer Dr Godwin Muza said there were no reports yet of people whose health was being affected by the heat.

Director Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Portia Manangazira yesterday said extreme temperatures being experienced in the country could trigger increased cases of diarrhoea, general malaise and heat stroke due to excessive dehydration.

This follows further warnings given by the SADC Climate Services Centre on Monday of excessive temperatures expected to end tomorrow.

Dr Manangazira said heat exhaustion was the commonest and was a result of the depletion of electrolytes in the body and excessive dehydration.

“The symptoms of dehydration include nausea, dizziness, headache, diarrhoea, and general malaise,” she said.

Although Dr Manangazira could not provide statistics of people that could have sought medical attention in recent days due to the excessive temperatures, she said in worst case scenarios, heat exhaustion could lead to death.

Dr Manangazira said fruits like melons, paw paw, matamba and citrus fruits help in hydrating the body during extreme temperatures.

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