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Rare heat wave hits Kenya

NAIROBI, March 22 (Xinhua) -- An unprecedented heat wave has hit Kenya, with temperatures rising to over 40 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country.

The heat wave has become the talk of the East African nation as many agree that it is the first time they are experiencing such a hot weather particularly in March when heavy rains are supposed to have started.

In the capital Nairobi, the weather stood at 30 degrees Celsius Monday, according to the Meteorological Department, with humidity hitting a high of about 45 percent.

The same was expected Tuesday, with humidity once again surging to 46 percent, making the city warmer for citizens.

Multiple forecasts indicated that the warm weather would last the entire week, with daily temperatures averaging 30 degrees Celsius, while night falling to 15 degrees Celsius.

"Nairobi is becoming uninhabitable because of the heat. I have lived in this city for several years but I have not experienced this. One cannot sleep well or dress as he wishes," George Mudaki, a government accountant in Nairobi, lamented Monday.

According to Mudaki, the weather pattern has become unpredictable as in the previous years, the March-May rainy season would have started by now.

"I believe the climate change phenomenon is catching up with us. We can no longer be sure of the weather; it has become too erratic. No one told us it was going to be this hotter this time," he noted.

The worst affected, however, are citizens in the coastal city of Mombasa where day temperatures have risen to a high of 41 degrees Celsius and night temperatures standing at an average of 25 degrees Celsius.

Mombasa is normally a favourite destination for conference tourists from different parts of Kenya, but the heat is threatening the business.

"I am in Mombasa and I can tell you the weather is unbearable. I am having sunburns on my hands due to the excess heat; I cannot wait for the conference to end in two days' time. This is the worst time to visit Mombasa," said Beryl Achieng, a communication officer.

Meteorological experts are divided in opinion, with some saying the heatwave is as a result of climate change while others are blaming it on the "equinox phenomenon", where the plane of earth's equator passes through the centre of the sun, meaning that the sun is exactly overhead, leading to high temperatures.

The Kenya Meteorological Department, however, has dismissed claims of heatwave, noting that all is normal in the East African nation, including the high humidity.

Deputy Director Peter Ambenje said in some places in Kenya temperatures rise to 40 degrees, but that is not out of the ordinary.

"Kenyans need not worry about extreme temperatures. What you will see is the usual fluctuation of temperature, nothing to raise alarm about," he said.

In a forecast the department released two weeks ago, the long rains season is expected to start towards end of this month, and would last until May.

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