Jim Andrews

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South Africa Record High Put to the Test

January 16, 2013; 11:06 AM ET

Searing heat over the Kalahari Desert has hiked the temperature to near all-time highs in northwestern South Africa.

The recognized claimant to the nation's all-time high, Vioolsdrif, reached at least 48 C, or 118 F, on Wednesday. This followed Tuesday's high of 45.8 C, or 114 F.

There was still opportunity for the temperature to rise further before topping.

The official high of 48.8 C (120 F) was reached in Vioolsdrif in January 1993, the Wikipedia web page for South Africa indicates.

The Wikipedia page also says that a reading of 51.7 C, or 125 F, was reached in 1948 at Upington, which lies well east of Vioolsdrif. However, this mark is not recognized, given that it was recorded on non-standard equipment.

The setting of Vioolsdrif is favorable for extreme summer heat.

Vioolsdrif lies on river bottom, surrounded by bleak hills and mountains. The rugged Richtersveld walls off the area from cooling Atlantic winds, allowing it bake in blazing summer sun.

The Oranje River here marks the boundary between South Africa and Namibia.


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