Near week-long heatwave to hit parts of South Africa

Ahmed Areff, News24

Johannesburg - An almost week-long heatwave is expected over parts of the country, with some maximum temperatures expected to hit 40 degrees Celsius on Monday.

The heatwave comes as large parts of the country are experiencing devastating drought conditions.

The SA Weather Service said in its daily forecast that a heatwave with "persistently high temperatures" is expected over Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the eastern part of the North West until Thursday.

Skukuza in Mpumalanga and Musina in Limpopo were expected to hit 40 on Monday. Lephalale in Limpopo was forecast to hit 39, Vryburg in the North West has maximum of 38, while Pretoria was forecast to hit a maximum of 37.

Extremely high fire danger conditions were also expected in parts of Limpopo.

Dr Francois Engelbrecht from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research told News24 last month that 2015 was going to be the warmest year ever on the global record.

This view was shared by other scientists, including the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which also told The New York Times that that this year will be the hottest in the historical record.

Engelbrecht told News24 that one of the only things that could prevent warming on this scale was a large volcanic eruption like that of Krakatoa.

The 1883 eruption is often considered to be the loudest sound ever heard in modern human history. Some reports say it was heard nearly 5 000km away.

He said the ash cloud from an eruption on that scale would have sulphur dioxide, which would reflect some sunlight back into space.

"But that is just an example of how warm this year is."

He said this global increase in temperature was caused by global warming and the El Nino phenomenon.

El Nino is the warming of the Pacific Ocean from its normal temperatures, which often results in severe weather conditions.

"Every 2 to 7 years the Pacific Ocean warms up. We are in such an event now, and the ocean temperatures are warmer than normal," Engelbrecht said.

"The event is expected to intensify further and peak in December."

Usually when the global record increases it is by 0.01%. This year it is expected to go beyond 0.1%.

"That is 10 times higher than what is normal."