Concerns rise as Nairobi faces unprecedented heatwave

Black Boy Drinking from a Water Tap

Nairobi, Kenya | By Michael Wandati | Kenyans are expressing growing concern over the unprecedented surge in temperatures observed in Nairobi over the past few weeks. Numerous individuals on various social media platforms, including X, have been actively discussing the intense heatwave affecting not only Nairobi but potentially other regions of the country.

Reports indicate that the scorching heat has made it nearly unbearable to stay indoors without using fans or keeping windows open. Additionally, many people are highlighting that the outdoor conditions are even more challenging, making it difficult for individuals to spend extended periods outdoors.

Observers note that these exceptionally high temperatures have persisted in the capital city of Nairobi since the beginning of February. Several factors, including climate change and the emission of greenhouse gases, are being attributed to the unprecedented heatwave.

Accuweather reports daytime highs in Nairobi ranging from 30° to 32° degrees Celsius. For instance, on Monday, February 19, the temperature in Nairobi reached 31° Celsius, contributing to the growing concerns among Kenyans about the unusually hot weather.

Expressing concern about the unusual heat conditions, X influencer Juma G remarked, “The sun rays hitting the ground in Nairobi are something else…The worst is heat during the day and the worst heat during the night!”

Another Kenyan highlighted, “The heatwave currently in Nairobi is no joke! Yaani jua imeamua kuwaka na familia yote. Employers, can we get a pass to go to the office in a bikini?.”

Sharing in the frustration, X user Karen Njeri complained, “Nairobi just became Mombasa… because what in the heat is this? Nairobi is literally an oven. Been taking cold showers but still sweating like hell at night!.”

Interestingly, these historically high temperatures mirror a similar phenomenon experienced around the same time last year, in February.

In November 2023, scientists anticipated the continued impact of the cyclical El Niño effect, which played a role in setting a global heat record. This effect was predicted to persist and disrupt weather patterns into early 2024.

“The naturally occurring warming effect in the Pacific Ocean can cause global temperatures to rise in the short term and wreak havoc on crop yields in some parts of the world,” scientists said.

While appearing on state-owned broadcaster KBC on February 4, 2023, the Kenya Meteorological Department Director David Gikungu explained that the then high temperatures Nairobi residents were experiencing at night were a result of the heat experienced during the day.

“What happens when there are very high temperatures during the day is that heat is stored by the ground and you may not expect the temperatures to go down during the night,” he then explained.

Also Read: Mitigating Climate Change: It Starts With Better Ocean Data

“Longwave radiation is experienced during the night and it may still be lingering deep into the night and that is why the temperature is high,” he added.

Heatwaves commonly induce symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, fainting, confusion, muscle cramps, headaches, heavy sweating, and tiredness.

To cope with the extreme heat, experts recommend various measures, including taking cold baths before bedtime, staying indoors, monitoring blood pressure, limiting alcohol consumption, staying hydrated, and incorporating a diet rich in fruits.