East London residents were subject to sweltering heat last Saturday after a record-breaking heatwave resulted in a peak temperature of 43.9ºC.
According to the South African Weather Service (SAWS), the heatwave was a result of berg wind conditions, when hot dry winds blow down the coast from the country’s high central plateau.
“As the air descends it gets warmer and by the time it gets to the coast it is extremely hot,” SAWS spokesperson in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) Garth Sampson told the Daily Dispatch on Monday.
According to statistics released by SAWS, East London’s temperature on Saturday was the second highest in the entire Eastern Cape on the day, below Addo’s 44.2ºC and above the 42.6ºC recorded in Patensie in Sarah Baartman District Municipality.
It was, however, the highest temperature ever recorded in the city. The original record was 43.1ºC, recorded on October 4, 1997.
The third highest temperature recorded in East London was 42.6ºC in February 17, 1955, fourth place was 41.7ºC in September 30, 1983 and the fifth highest was 41.2ºC in March 11, 1996.
According to Sampson, such heatwaves occur every year between March and October.