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Record Breaking Heatwave Hits Australia

Posted by karen-smith-murphy on November 5, 2014

It’s springtime in the Outback and things are heating up in Australia.  Summer doesn’t begin until December, but record temperatures have already been set at 20 stations throughout the country recently, topping out at 108.6 F in the town of St. George.  Heatwaves are hitting earlier and lasting longer than usual.  Climate Progress has the story…

A spokesman from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology told the Sydney Morning Herald that the heat wave was significant not just for its high temperatures, but for its duration. Wanaaring, Australia set a record of eight days of 95°F temperatures, a stretch of time that beats the town’s previous record of seven days in 1997. Broken Hill, Australia also experienced a longer stretch of October heat than usual: five days of 95°F or higher weather, up from the town’s previous October record of three days in a row.

Rob Sharpe, a meteorologist at Weatherzone, told the Herald that this heat wave was the “first big heat event of the warming season.” But Australia has been no stranger to heat waves in recent years. Last year was Australia’s hottest ever recorded, with an average annual temperature of 73.4°F — 2.16°F higher than the average for 1961-1990.  The country also started 2014 with extreme temperatures, in a heatwave that began in 2013 and continued into the new year: in early January, parts of Australia reached 122°F, with some reports of temperatures as high as 129°F.  This year, southeastern Australia also endured a record-breaking fall heat wave, with May temperatures up to 9°F higher than usual.

Imagine hitting 108 F in early May here in the northern hemisphere (Washington, DC) … it looks as if Australia’s in for a long hot summer.  Maybe they should consider reworking their building codes to incentivize or even require cool roofs & reflective pavements.  Stay tuned.

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Karen Smith-Murphy