Hot Weather, Increased Demand For Electricity

It’s apparently been unseasonably hot for the time of year. I say apparently because over years of travelling in various countries I have become quite sceptical of local so-called weather knowledge which is often used to explain any inconvenient weather as “unsual for the time of year”. However, according to a report in today’s Bahrain Tribune, the cause of our current spell of high temperatures and light winds is a weaker than normal monsoon weather system over Northern India and Pakistan.In turn this has meant that the usual Shamal wind from the north west is not blowing to provide a cooling touch over the region. Indeed according to this article it has been reversed, bringing hot winds from the interior of the Arabian Pennisula. The impact on the Gulf has been that Kuwait is experiencing the highest June temperatures since 1957 and here in Bahrain with daytime temperatures in the lower forties (several degrees higher than June averages) it has led to larger than normal numbers of hospital admissions of workers suffering from heat exhaustion.

This last weekend has again been very hot with very little breeze so late Saturday afternoon we took refuge in the rooftop pool. Soon after the sun passes its zenith, the north facing, seaward side of the roof becomes shaded by the higher part of the building containing the lift shafts and changing rooms. With a light sea breeze the pool area becomes a relatively cooler, shady oasis. Only our next door neighbours were up there lazing in the jacuzzi built into one end of the pool. Between cooling dips hubby and I lay on the sun loungers chatting or reading magazines we’d recently brought back from the UK (magazine prices are almost double here).

After a couple of hours relaxation we decided to head downstairs for a quick shower before making a start on supper. However in the lobby we met another resident heading for the pool who advised that the roof terrace would be cooler as the power was off and probably wouldn’t be back for an hour or so. Welcome to summer in the Middle East! As temperatures rise so does the use of air conditioning. In traditional Bahraini houses wind towers were used to keep the interior cool but with the advent of electricity, air conditioning systems are ubiquitous.

With all the residential and office building going on in the Kingdom, power supplies have struggled to keep up. A new electricity and water desalination plant at Al Dur down the coast is due to start contributing a small amount of electricity later this month but won’t come fully online until next year. Meanwhile in last weeks GDN I spotted the announcement of the inauguration of the Umm Al Naasan power station which the Government run Electricity and Water Authority  (EWA) say will reduce power cuts by 20% this summer.

To protect supplies the EWA  has a system of cutting power for an hour across swathes of the country in rotation. Juffair’s turn was 17:30 Saturday night. According to ex-pats who’ve been here a while the cuts usually occur during the day to reduce complaints. As our flat faces north once the sun starts to set, it gets rather gloomy without the lights on so we stayed put, swiming and chatting to other residents until the pool pump restarted just over an hour later.


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