Australians escape the 2013 heat wave on the beach. Ryan Osland / SMH

By Peter Hannam, Carbon economy editor
4 January 2013

(Sydney Morning Herald) – LONG-STANDING temperature records may be broken in coming days as a massive heatwave sizzles much of the country.

A huge swath of central and south-eastern Australia is poised to swelter on Friday with temperatures expected to peak at 41 degrees in Melbourne, 44 in Adelaide and even 39 in Hobart.

"We probably will get close to some of the really significant Australia-wide records," said Aaron Coutts-Smith, the NSW climate services manager at the weather bureau. "The majority of Australia is suffering from extreme high temperatures."

Among the records to be challenged is the 40.17 degrees average maximum reached on December 21, 1972.

The country notched up an average maximum of 39.21 degrees on Wednesday, as measured across more than 700 weather sites. That result was narrowly outside the top 10 days recorded since 1950, Dr Coutts-Smith said.

The new record could be reached on the weekend or even Monday, so prolonged is the heat spell. ''All three days are looking fairly intense with widespread heat," he said.

Also within range could be the highest temperature recorded in Australia - 50.7 degrees at Oodnadatta in South Australia on January 2, 1960. Several sites in Western Australia reached 47.9 degrees on Thursday. But the hottest place has been Eucla, where it hit 48.1 degrees on Thursday afternoon, its hottest day on record and 22 degrees above the summer average, said Brett Dutschke, a senior meteorologist with Weatherzone. […]

Nationally, average maximum temperatures for the September-December period were 1.61 degrees above the 1961-90 average, at 32.47 degrees, narrowly breaking the previous record for the period set in 2002. […]

''Are we going back to the sort of average years after a La Nina event or are we going back to those dry conditions that really characterised the southern Murray-Darling Basin?'' said Karl Braganza, the manager of climate monitoring at the weather bureau. ''Based on the evidence we've seen, we are going back to drier-than-average conditions.'' [more]

Heatwave adds burn to climb in temperatures

An Australian firefighter faces a bushfire. Jonathan Carroll

By Nick Ralston
4 January 2013

PARTS of the state are facing their most serious bushfire threat in more than a decade amid a heatwave across much of Australia.

The Rural Fire Service said brigades statewide had been briefed about the conditions, and there were concerns public complacence about fire safety was worsening.

The RFS deputy commissioner, Rob Rogers, said parts of the state, particularly in the west and the south, faced the most serious bushfire threat in 12 years.

''We've had two record wet years and before that 10 years of drought when there was nothing to burn, so people haven't had a major fire danger for 12 years in some cases,'' he said. ''There could be a lot of complacency out there and that is obviously the biggest killer.''

A total fire ban is in place on Friday for the Riverina district. Groups of fire fighters from Sydney and the Hunter have toured parts of the state's west to see the conditions they will be up against if large fires break out in that region.

There were 35 bushfires in NSW on Thursday. Six were burning out of control, but none were threatening property. [more]

Major fire threats put brigades on high alert


  1. gail zawacki said...

    Oh, boy. Can't wait to see what next summer will be like in the Northern Hemisphere, can you?  


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