Extreme drought persists across South Africa

No end in sight to hot and dry conditions exacerbated by an exceptionally strong El Nino.

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    South Africa has been experiencing its hottest weather and worst drought in many decades [FPA]
    South Africa has been experiencing its hottest weather and worst drought in many decades [FPA]

    South Africa remains in the grip of its worst drought in decades. Last Thursday the South African Weather Service announced that 2015 was the driest year on record and it shows no sign of abating. Those records date back to 1904.

    To make matters worse, health officials say 11 people have died of heatstroke after a week-long heatwave across the country.

    Recent days have seen temperatures in North West province exceed 40 degrees Celsius. According to the national weather service, 32 temperature records have already been broken this year.

    One Minute El Nino

    The heat stretches far and wide across the country. Just last week, Marico, just south of Durban, recorded temperatures of 45C. The previous record high there, 43C, was set on December 2, 1990.

    The hot and dry conditions are expected to continue for at least another two months before autumn cooling can be expected to offer some relief.

    As has been well documented, the drought is being exacerbated by an exceptionally strong El Nino weather pattern. As is typically the case, this El Nino has brought drier conditions to southern Africa and wetter ones to east Africa.

    South Africa is also battling a number of wildfires. Extremely high fire-danger conditions are in place over the northwestern parts of the Northern Cape and Western Cape West Coast.

    In neighbouring Namibia, the Namibian Press Association reported that severe storms had damaged 31 houses, affecting nearly 100 people in recent weeks.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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