Central Otago swelters in week of 30deg days

Clyde School pupils (from left) Indee Stuart-Maynard, Neave McHugh-Smith, Alyse Panui (all 6) and...
Clyde School pupils (from left) Indee Stuart-Maynard, Neave McHugh-Smith, Alyse Panui (all 6) and Grace Tohill (5) were pleased school swimming lessons were on the programme yesterday afternoon in the Clyde pool. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
Sales of sunscreen, insect bite medication and weather stations are soaring as Central Otago swelters in temperatures topping 30degC every day this week.

Residents have made a beeline to cool off in lakes, rivers, swimming pools and irrigation dams as February lives up to its reputation as the hottest, driest month of the year.

The arrival of summer has coincided with the start of the school year, and the weather has again been a hot topic of conversation.

Daytime temperatures have reached 36degC in many Central Otago districts and the MetService forecasts the fine weather continuing until Sunday.

As temperatures have swelled, so too, it seems, have the numbers of mosquitoes and insects.

Pharmacy owners in Alexandra and Cromwell report an increasing number of customers this week seeking treatment for mosquito and insect bites.

"With the heat wave we've had a boost in sunscreen, after-sun care and sunglasses but by far the biggest increase is in the number of people coming in wanting treatment for mosquito bites," Cromwell Pharmacy owner Jackie Hamilton said.

"I guess as it gets hotter, more people are sleeping with the doors and windows open, so they're the target of mosquitoes."

Budges Central Pharmacy and Bookshop owner David Budge, of Alexandra, agreed.

"The heat seems to bring out the biting insects and we've had lots of people coming in with bites and reaction to bites.

"It's not as bad as the mosquito problem in 2005, when we had wet weather followed by a hot summer, but we've certainly noticed a big increase this week in treatment for insect bites," he said.

Central Betta Electrical co-owner Denise Feron said sales of portable fans had increased this week, along with inquiries about heat pumps which doubled as air conditioning units.

Weather stations had also been surprisingly popular.

"We've sold quite a few of those this week, the more elaborate ones with rain and wind gauges attached.

"I guess people are wanting to know exactly how hot it is and what the indoor and outdoor temperatures are at all times."

Hot weather has an impact on fruit crops as well as on people.

Orchardists have been busy protecting pipfruit crops from sunburn as the temperature rises, switching on overhead irrigation as it gets close to 30degC, to cool down the fruit.



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