bureau of meteorology

Wed, 2013-01-09 14:00Graham Readfearn
Graham Readfearn's picture

Australia Scorches In Record Heatwave As Warming Trends Bite

AUSTRALIA is baking in a heatwave which has broken all historical records for its geographical size and sheer number of extremes.

For seven days straight, the country's average maximum temperature has been above 39C (102F), beating a previous run of just four days of such temperatures set back in 1973.

The country's Bureau of Meteorology has issued a special statement outlining the unprecedented heat event and some of the records broken

Australia set a new record for the highest national area-average temperature, recording 40.33 °C (104F) and surpassing the previous record set on 21 December 1972 (40.17 °C). To date (data up to the 7 January 2013) the national area-average for each of the first 7 days of 2013 has been in the top 20 hottest days on record, with 6 January the fifth hottest on record and the first time 6 consecutive days over 39 °C (102F) has ever been recorded for Australia.

So hot have been the temperatures, that BoM was forced to add extra colours to its forecast maps so they could show temperatures beyond 52C (125F). Deep purple is no longer just a 1960s heavy rock band, but is now also a colour that beckons 54C (129F).

On consecutive days the country beat its previous daily mean temperature record, which had stood since 1972, with 32.36C (90F) set on 8 January.

Hobart in Tasmania reached 41.8C (107F), its hottest day by a full degree in a record going back 120 years. Eucla in Western Australia, more than 2500 kilometres away, also broke its record with a searing 48.2C (118.7F).

In Birdsville in outback Queensland, a place well used to extreme heat, the roads started to melt, sticking to residents' shoes. In Oodnadatta in South Australia, the town's petrol station stopped pumping because the heat was vapourising the fuel.

Aside from the effects of heat exhaustion and dehydration, the most immediate threat facing Australian in Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria has been bushfires.

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