Below average rainfall due to record high temperatures along the coastline

2018-08-02 17:26


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This year is gearing up to be one of the hottest years on record, with maximum temperatures recorded in many countries, AFP reports.

The northern hemisphere has been experiencing record-high heatwaves across various countries, including North African countries, Japan, the UK, and parts of the US.

In South Africa, these high temperatures are having negative effects on the average winter rainfall.

As a result, farmers have been suffering the consequences of the below-average rainfall and residents' taps may run dry in certain regions along the coastline.

Residents of Nelson Mandela Bay have been urged to continue saving as much water as possible as the region faces one of its warmest winters to date (1950-2018).

This comes after a maximum average temperature of 22.8°C was recorded for July 2018, compared to the 21.6°C average temperature recorded last year, and the combined average of 22.4°C for both June and July in 2018.

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The warmer conditions adversely affect the expected winter rainfall for the region, the South African Weather Service said in a statement.

"This can largely be attributed to the lack of cloud, which was a result of considerably lower than normal rainfall figures."

Average rainfall for July was recorded at 31.4mm, well below the normal 51mm expected this time of the year.

"Rainfall needs to fall in the catchment areas in the Langkloof, and not so much in the city to make a difference to our water supply," spokesperson for the SA Weather Service in Port Elizabeth Garth Sampson said.

"We need a good couple of 50mm rainfalls to help [the water shortage] as this might make a difference," Sampson said.

The past two months did not yield promising rain for the region, and a 100-150mm of rain is needed over the wider catchment area.

"If we do not receive the necessary rainfall, we can expect a very dry period from November through to February next year," Sampson said.

Taps may also run dry during the summer months if rainfall does not occur.

Irrigation systems for farmers

Farmers are negatively affected by the overall warm conditions over these winter months.

Farmers are now urged to use irrigation methods, which could be costly to implement.

"They (farmers) are tremendously affected and generally the land is brown. There are hardly any green areas," Sampson added.

"Dairy farms are suffering the most.

"Farmers have to buy infeed, which results in losing profits."

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This could possibly affect consumers in the future as farmers are dependent on the rainfall, but it is not certain as to how it may affect consumers yet.

"The land is drying out quicker and the water supply to farmers have been drastically cut," Sampson said.

Long-term plans to supply water to Nelson Mandela Bay residents have been put in place.

"The Nooitgedacht Low-Level water scheme currently supplies large amounts [of water] to the city for the residents of the Nelson Mandela Metropole but it is not helping the farming areas," Sampson said.

Furthermore, George recorded its highest average temperature at 21.7°C in July and East London recorded its third- highest average maximum temperature of 23.1°C.

Overall, July has been an exceptionally warm month between the George and East London region, with record-high maximum temperatures leading to one of the warmest winters, the SA Weather Service said.

Record heatwaves

Heatwaves are becoming more and more common as countries across the globe have been experiencing extremely high temperatures.

AFP previously reported that the hottest temperatures of the year in Britain were recorded last Thursday. The mercury hit 35.1°C in London.

Many UK trains were affected by the heatwaves as air conditioning systems were faulty.

In the first two weeks of July, Japan has experienced a deadly heatwave, killing more than a dozen people and sending more than 12 000 people to hospital as temperatures closed in on 40°C Celsius.

Temperatures hit a local record of 39.8°C in the central city of Gujo, while in some parts of Tokyo the temperature rose higher than 37°C, AFP reported.

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