Biggest heatwave in decades

03 Jan, 2013 04:24 AM

AUSTRALIA'S notoriously variable climate is on full display, with parts of the nation about to experience one of the largest heatwaves in territorial extent in decades after coming off a sharp shift in 2012 from wetter to drier-than-average conditions.

A major swath of central Australia stretching from Oodnadatta to Coober Pedy and Birdsville can expect maximum temperatures of 45 degrees or hotter for at least a week.

Towns to the south and east, such as Mildura and Hay, can expect to broil with 40-degree maximum temperatures for just as long.

''We have a major heat event under way,'' Karl Braganza, manager of climate monitoring at the Bureau of Meteorology, said. ''There are not many instances in the historical record where you get a heat event covering such a large area of the continent.''

Brett Dutschke, senior meteorologist at Weatherzone, said it was unusual to have so prolonged a hot spell. ''It's a once-in-20 or 30-year heatwave event in desert areas,'' he said. ''More populated areas further south … are going to experience some of this as well.''

The mercury is forecast to hit 36 degrees in Melbourne on Thursday and 41 degrees of Friday, with temperatures also soaring in Canberra although Sydney will largely be spared.

Much of south-eastern Australia has weathered warm temperatures for months. ''We effectively had midsummer heat arriving at the end of spring,'' Dr Dutschke said.

Nationwide, though, 2012 was probably an average year, temperature-wise, with the Bureau of Meteorology due to release figures Thursday morning.

The rainfall shift, though, was stark. Much of the continent went from cool and wet in the March quarter to drier-than-average conditions within a short spate of time.

"The stunning reversal in rainfall from wet to dry across large parts of the continent, particularly the south, is a result of a switch from a La Nina (weather pattern) early in the year to El Nino-like conditions through winter and spring,” Dr Braganza said.

While much of south-eastern Australia enters its high fire danger period, there may be some modest relief on the way. Weatherzone’s Dr Dutschke says models indicate temperatures and rainfall will start to trend back to more normal summer patterns from about the middle of January.

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3/01/2013 6:13:23 AM

This is not unusual for Austalia. I lived in central Northern Terrritory in the 70s and we had 45 degrees every day for 2 weeks one December. In Julia Creek in the 70s we had 40 degrees for breakfast. My sister in Hay had 50 degrees during the drought a few years ago. Huge floods like those recieved in the last few years are not unknown. I have seen many extreme events in my 70 years of life. This is normal for Australia and NOT global warming. Maybe the climate is changing but that is a normal cycle.
Lets Get Rational
3/01/2013 6:18:44 AM

Now just wait for the usual clowns to claim its all due to carbon dioxide emissions.
3/01/2013 6:28:56 AM

Nothing new here, every year ending in a 2 since 1882 has been below average. We are now heading in to the drier part on the cycle; I just hope it won’t be too dry.
Bushfire Blonde
3/01/2013 7:12:43 AM

One point about climate change that does not get enough air time is that since the year dot, the climate has been changing, just as it does now from hour to hour, day to day, week to week and so on. Mankind must be having some influence in the process because of what he/she has been doing. For instance, since coal and oil have started being burnt, the level of CO2 has been building up and subject to the availibility of moisture, all vegetation has been grower faster, feeding off the extra CO2. This is Nature's way of compensating for what mankind is doing as life progresses.
the lorax
3/01/2013 7:32:56 AM

Neither climate change nor global warming were mentioned in the article. Methinks thou doth protest too much.
Ian Mott
3/01/2013 7:59:42 AM

Has this turkey seen the SOI lately? An equal sized portion of the country is in for 50-70% chance of above average rain over the next 3 months. And 45C at Oodnadatta is news in a year when Lake Eyre is dry? When will Fairfax Ag Media stop flogging this ignorant metrocentric brain pus to the regional audience who came down long before the last shower?
3/01/2013 9:05:48 AM

Another totally inappropriate and mannerless rant from Pott, making civilised discourse impossible. Pott has made it clear enough that he prefers the opinions of denialists to the considered view of the greater scientific community. But this is no reason for the sort of abuse which he often provides in place of argument. BB, see the discussion on another thread. Enhanced CO2 sometimes improves plant growth, but often the opposite is true. It's not that simple. Evolution takes place over millennia, not decades. See: 10.1007%2FBF00346400?LI=true
Ian Mott
3/01/2013 3:24:20 PM

Yes, we know all about sico's idea of "civilised discourse". It is the one where anyone who can see right through the alarmist bull$#it is called a "denier" or a "flat earther" by low life pretending to be polite society. So lets repeat the key points. SOI indicates an equal area will get above average rain in the next 3 months. 45C at Oodnadatta when Lake Eyre is dry is entirely normal. And regional readers are boored $#itless by regurgitated urban crap masquerading as information. A bit much for poor old sico but hardly daunting for an adult.
Lets Get Rational
3/01/2013 5:44:09 PM

Nico states that enhanced co2 levels are in the majority not good for plant growth. He/she has a different view of every botanist on planet earth. But thats not surprising.
4/01/2013 5:43:26 AM

The point about CO2 and plant growth is that a rise in CO2 sometimes (not always) causes an increase in plant growth. That's because there are usually limiting factors, such as dry soil, low fertility, salinity, etc. that prevent plants from taking advantage of the CO2. Anyone who thinks that increased plant growth will have a significant impact on global warming is dreaming.
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