The Czech Republic has just seen its hottest day so far this year, with temperatures reaching highs of 37 degrees Celsius in places on Tuesday, and the current heatwave shows no signs of abating. As temperatures soar to mid-30s around the country, the scorching heat continues to affect the lives of individuals as well as business operations.
Long running summer heatwaves have become rather common in the Czech Republic in recent years but the country still needs to readjust itself to the changing weather conditions. For instance the Prague transport authority is gradually increasing the number of air-conditioned trams and buses in its fleet. By the end of the year, up to one third of Prague trams should be equipped with air-conditioning, a spokeswoman said.
While retailers report increased sales of fans and air-conditioning units and producers of chilled drinks and ice cream also welcome the higher demand, other businesses have to pay extra costs ensuing from the heat. Michal Římsa sells vegetables at a farmers’ market in Prague.
“We need to sprinkle the lettuces with water, in order to keep them moist, so that they won’t dry out. We keep the herbs in lots of water to prevent them from withering away quickly. We basically need an extra person to make sure our produce stays fresh.”
The construction industry, too, is heavily affected as the hot and dry weather speeds up the drying of concrete and therefore building works need to be rearranged accordingly. Václav Matyáš is the president of the Czech Association of Building Entrepreneurs.
“We were rather taken aback by the weather, in terms of its impact on technology. Building concrete constructions and laying tarmac in the midday heat is a problem. So the main works need to be rescheduled for late afternoon or night time hours.”
Sprinkler trucks drive around the rainless cities in additional shifts, cooling down the dusty air above the sizzling tarmac. Employers are taking precautions to protect their staff. For example the Prague Transport Authority supplies its drivers with water and most drivers’ cabins have been equipped with air conditioning. The Prague Castle Guard had to change its routines due to the heat stretch. Under normal conditions, its members are required to stand motionless for hours, dressed up from head to toe in ceremonial uniforms outside the castle gates. Jiří Havel is a spokesman for the Prague Castle Guard.
This has now become a regular measure when temperatures exceed critical highs in the summer. Also the castle guards’ summer uniforms are lighter in colour in order to absorb less sunlight.
Above average temperatures in the Czech Republic are expected to continue throughout August and only slightly cool off towards the end of the month.