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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Climate Diary of an extreme heatwave across Australia and climate heat impacts

The Bureau of Meteorology in the lead up to christmas in 2018 showed a heatwave building through the week. The forecast was for severe and extreme heatwave impacts particularly Thursday 27 December to Saturday 29 December.

A blocking high in the Tasman and strong heat from the Pilbara in Western Australia and right through Central Australia, will periodically extend tendrils of sweltering heat to encompass the major population centres of Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

While these cities may get occasional relief from weak cold fronts and coastal sea breezes, inland towns will swelter in the scorthing heat with temperatures in the mid to high 30s and low 40s.

Graphing the Tmax trend in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and some regional towns

Heatwave climate diary

  • December 22 - Initial Warning
  • December 23 - UK Met Office takes note, VicHealth issues heathealth alerts
  • December 24 - No report as travelling
  • December 25 - Hot christmas for Sydney, Climate scientists says this is the face of climate change
  • December 26 - Marble Bar feeling the heat, SBS story on Heat health, South African heatwave, Was it hot on Boxing Day?
  • December 27 - Heatwave spans 5 states with 49C forecast, Climate Council heatwave and Heathealth reports, hot in Sydney, bloody hot in Adelaide, 5 years of climate inaction, Melbourne Temps hit 40C, Tennant Creek smashes record, Emus seek heat respite in sea
  • December 28 - Catastrophic fire warning in South Australia, Surface temperatures soar, heat records fall in several SA towns, South African heatwave finishes
  • December 29 - Slow roasting Australia, Cruel increase in night time temps in Albury, warning about taking fur buddies for a walk, Thongs and roads melting in Sydney while NSW inland records fall, Heat in Canberra, Alice Springs sets all time heat record, historical heat deaths stats, New extreme heat policy by Tennis Australia, AMA on heathealth Safety, climate scientist warning
  • December 30 - AMA warning on drowning deaths, Large areas over 45C in weekly mean temperatures, Even Koalas are needing to drink more in this heat, far north there is a Tropical Cyclone watch, solar reducing peak demand, the trend for Sydney...50C days on horizon, Prisoners riot in Alice Springs prison in crowded sweltering inhumane conditions.
  • December 31 - the heat in Sydney's west and the failure in climate policy, solar performing well, Echuca, observational statistics show extreme temperatures are increasing, Warning for Energy Minister Taylor, Close escape for 4 tourists suffering heat exhaustion in 45C outback, BOM sums up the year.
  • January 1 - Hot start to 2019, cabinet documents release show Australia a climate freeloader in 1990s, Scorcher for Victoria, SA, NT for Friday
  • January 2 - Bendigo: heat related illness soars, Red Cross heathealth warning, BOM warnings to SE Australia, Research: Expect significant increase in heatwave-related losses including deaths, comparing Sydney Observatory Hill with Penrith heatwave temperature, Tasmania temperatures forecast to nudge 40 degrees on Friday, Total Fire Ban for Victoria
  • January 3 Heatwave conditions through central NT, Wagga Wagga zoo hours reduced, Very hot in SA, UK Met Office forecasts by end of 2019, 19 of the 20 hottest years globally since 2000
  • January 4 Scorcher today for Tasmania and Victoria, Vline extreme heat timetables, Remember heathealth for pets, Explainer on heatwaves and the climate connection, Coolchange moves through SA, Vic, Tas, Walgett faces a water crisis in heatwave
  • January 5-Heat into the Hunter region, Hundreds of cattle die at Noonkanbah Station, Hottest December on record for Tmax temperatures, Tips for sleeping in a heatwave, A farmer speaks on heatwaves and climate change, Sydney storms bring cool change
  • January 6- Heat retreats, but will build again over the following week

December 22

By December 22 the Christmas extreme heatwave that would envelope most of the Australian mass was on the Bureau of Meteorology radar:

December 23

December 23 the UK MetOffice took note of the building heatwave:

Victorian Health Alerts for some regions were issued:

December 25

December 25: A christmas gift of 5 years of failed climate policy, 4 yours of rising emissions, and now a real stinker of a heatwave starting to make us sweat:

New Year's Eve extreme heat forecast for Sydney

Sydney experienced a hot mean temperature on Christmas Day:

But mainstream media failing to report on the climate change influence on heatwaves:

Climate scientist and former Vice-chair of the IPCC JPascal van Ypersele on Australia's heatwave:

December 26

December 26: During this event, I'm located in Orange, NSW in the NSW Central West, a little island of slightly cooler temperatures as the heatwave strikes and envelopes inland NSW:

Heat Health alerts issued for most Victorian regions:

Marble Bar in the Pilbara feeling the heat:

Heatwave forecast into 2019:

Heatwave records set to tumble:

SBS runs an important story on Heat Health, one of the few mainstream media reports looking at the climate and health impacts:

Meanwhile South Africa is in the grip of a weeklong heatwave with temperatures in the mid 30s.

Was it hot across Australia on Boxing Day? Bloody hot.

December 27

December 27: Heatwave mortality discussion

Injecting some background info for journalists:

This is not the new normal:

Western Sydney is heating up:

and it's bloody hot in Adelaide:

A reminder that emissions are driving up temperatures, and Australia has failed climate policy for 5 years.

Temperatures in Melbourne's northern suburbs hit 40C

Tennant Creek in the Northern territory smashes it's record for the number of days over 40C

Wild emus in South Australia seek heat refuge in the ocean waves:

Records and near records set for 27 December:

The Tmax temperatures for the 27th December:

December 28

December 28: Catastrophic fire warning declared for one South Australian region

The good news is that renewables are reducing the power peak while coal generators are prone to failure in the heat.

Hot forecast for Sydney for the weekend.

I go for a cycle ride around Orange in the 32 degree C heat and take some surface measurements. We tend to forget that surfaces heat up to extreme levels far above the ambient air temperatures:

Heat records fall in several South Australian towns:

More on South Australian temperature records:

Not just another heatwave:

Important we look at how to improve the thermal comfort of citizens, especially in an equitable manner.

Don't go barefoot to the shops...or take your fur buddies for a walk:

South African heatwave finishes...but in Australia the heat continues:

Heat isn't as extensive in Queensland as other states:

December 29

Saturday 29 December: Slow Roasting Australia:

Checking the 7 day forecast to Jan 3.

and in South Africa the heatwave impacted agriculture which will flow through into food prices:

Reminder about #heathealth safety of taking dogs for a walk:

A Cruel increase in night-time temperatures at Albury:

Playground designers have got something seriously wrong:

In Sydney thongs and roads are melting:

Heat records falling in inland NSW:

A new Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek? Will likely increase the already strong urban heat island effect in Western Sydney basin.

Western Sydney reached 40 degrees...

Heat in Canberra:

Alice Springs in the Northern territory sets all time maximum heat record:

More records from NT and Western Australia:

Message to Peter Dutton on public safety and heatwaves:

New extreme heat policy announced by Tennis Australia:

AMA on heathealth safety and heatwave temperatures:

Climate Scientist and former vice-chair of the IPCC JPascal van Ypersele on the heatwave:

December 30

Sunday 30 December

With people using pools, rivers and lakes to cool off, drowning deaths are a huge hazard warns the AMA:

Even Koalas are needing to drink more in this heat...(ABC News report)

and up in the far north there is a Tropical Cyclone watch...

But solar is going great guns reducing peak demand...

A slight reprieve from the heat for some, part of the ebb and flow of the heat...

7 days down, but after a slight reprieve for east coast, more heat on the way...

No end in sight... 3 day heatwave forecast starting Thursday 3 January.

The trend for Western Sydney in coming days, and coming decades is looking hot...

But some people are still in denial and reckon because we have had heatwaves in the past nothing has changed. BOM climate observations and the statistical trends prove them wrong. Scientific modeling shows Melbourne and Sydney are heading towards 50C extreme heat events.

Fifth day of extreme temperatures in the inland, now a discernable large area with average daily Maximum Temperatures over 45C for a week...

Alice Springs Prisoners riot at overcrowded sweltering inhumane conditions

On Saturday December 29 some Prisoners in the Alice Springs prison rioted with 70 breaking out of their cells after their simple demands for ice and cordial for heat relief were not met. The prison is overcrowded with 650 people in a prison built to accommodate 350.

“This is what happens when you’ve got 16 prisoners sharing a dorm with no aircon and the temperature hitting 50 degrees outside for days. There’s fans but no extraction so that air doesn’t move. This morning it was 37 degrees at 7 in the morning so you can imagine what these guys are feeling like.” said a prison officer expressing some empathy with the prisoners.

The prisoners were subdued with OC and CS gas and put back in their stifling cells according to the NT News report.

Erina Early, the branch secretary of United Voice Northern Territory, said in an ABC News report conditions in the prison are inhumane given the heatwave temperatures.

"Basically at the moment the dorms are built for eight prisoners; they've got two toilets and two showers, and at the moment you've got 16 prisoners to a dorm," Ms Early said.

"It's been a matter that we have been arguing with the department for quite a long time because the conditions are inhumane, especially when you've got so many prisoners in one room and the prison is not designed for it."

Ms Early highlighted that the men's section of the prison doesn't have air-conditioning, and the extraction fans were broken, "so there's no circulation at all in the prison".

The temperature for Alice Springs reached 44.5C at 3.30pm, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

She reckons its only a matter of time before prisoners boil over again unless conditions are improved.

"To me the only way that this is going to be fixed if there is appropriate cooling mechanisms for the prisoners, because it's not humane in a room crammed together, where you've only got minimal toilets and also no air-conditioning... they really need to address the overstaffing and the conditions of the actual cells." she said.

Heatwave Maximum temperatures for Alice Springs and Darwin compared (Forecast temps from 2/1), data from Bureau of Meteorology:

December 31

Dr Andy Marks, the assistant Vice Chancellor of University of Western Sydney, highlights the heat in Sydney's west and the failure in climate policy

Solar is performing well across Australia...

Echuca on the NSW/Victorian border is feeling the heat now and into the future...

In response to those who say it's always hot at this time....the observational statistics show extreme temperatures are increasing...

New Year's Eve in Sydney and even the public transport has messages about the heat...

Heatwave Making the news in France:

Warning for Energy Minister Angus Taylor..

Storms through NSW lowering temperatures, but lightning strikes increasing (bushfire risk)...

Close escape for 4 tourists suffering heat exhaustion, ill prepared while hiking in 45C temperatures...
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Jackson Browne said heat records across central Australia were falling. "On Saturday we saw Alice Springs break its all-time temperature record with 45.6 degrees. And on Sunday night we saw Walangurru or Kintore community near the Western Australia border break the highest minimum temperature for the NT." The record minimum temperature was 33.8C

Renewables as part of NEM network...

Bureau of Meteorology sums up the year:

January 1

Hot start to 2019...more heatwave to come later this week...

The traditional release of Federal cabinet documents from 20 years ago show that Australia was considered a climate freeloader in international negotiations. Except for a brief time 2007-2013, Nothing much has changed. Our inaction is driving longer hotter heatwaves.

Solar reduces peak energy demand...

Friday shaping up to be a scorcher in Victoria:

Super hot Friday for South Australia and Northern territory

January 2

Bendigo: heat related illness soars...
“Some of the heat related presentations could have been avoided,” the spokesperson said. “With the current hot weather and more to come over the coming days Bendigo Health is encouraging people to look after themselves and avoid a trip to the emergency department.”

Bendigo Health has urged people to avoid staying outside during the hottest part of the day, and put off non urgent activities like gardening or bike riding until the weather is cooler reports the Bendigo Advertiser.

Red Cross warns of heat health in the continuing heatwave

BOM warning: heat from central Australia extending to South east from tomorrow..

Heatwave warning forecast starting Thursday, Friday Saturday...

While Orange Airport shows a temperature of 33.9C at 2.07pm, a home temperature guage in the shade is reading 39C. Orange airport is 12km south of Orange and consistently records lower temperatures than experienced in the town.

Stinker of a day expected in South Australia...

Total Fire Ban on Friday for Victoria

Research says Expect significant increase in heatwave-related losses including deaths...

Comparing Tmax heatwave temperatures in Sydney's West (Penrith) with Sydney (Observatory Hill)

In Tasmania temperatures are forecast to nudge 40 degrees Celsius on Friday.

January 3

Heatwave conditions continue through Central Australia...

Wagga Wagga: The Daily Advertiser reports that the Wagga Botanic Gardens Zoo open hours to be reduced to protect animal welfare as the heatwave sets in. The temperature in Wagga has reached 36.3C at 1.00pm, with a forecast of 38C for Thursday, 41C for Friday, and 37C for Saturday, with temperatures forecast to drop back to 32C on Sunday.

South Australia: Bureau of meteorology warns "Hot to Very Hot throughout today with forecast temps up to 49C in the Northwest" with a further warning: "Very hot conditions, with temperatures in the mid 40's, for most of northern South Australia today, followed by a warm night. An unexpected situation could land you in the heat so be sun smart, and also carry water with you.."

Bureau of Meteorology: burst of extreme heat for southern and eastern Australia, 3 January 2019

Forecast: By the end of 2019, 19 of the 20 warmest years on record globally will have occurred since 2000.

Short sharp heat shock for Melbourne...

January 4

Tasmania expecting a scorcher today with a forecast state maximum of 39 degrees Celsius in Brighton and Campania in the south and a top of 36 degrees in Hobart, with fire danger rated across the state as being between high and severe.

Senior forecaster Luke Johnston advised a cooler change in the afternoon, possibly with a storm.
"It'll move through Hobart about 2:00pm and gradually move up the east coast," he said. "We don't see many days in January, especially for Hobart, where temperatures get into the high 30s."
Read the full story at ABC News: Tasmanians brace for extreme heat on sixth anniversary of Dunalley fire tragedy.

Victoria: Total fire ban, extreme temperatures up to mid 40s in northern Victoria, Melbourne temperature forecast to reach 42C before a change in the afternoon with possible thunderstorm to drop temperatures by up to 20 degress. High winds forecast making fire weather for the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country and North Central districts rated as extreme. The cold change will be accompanied by damaging winds which will average 60 to 70 kilometres per hour, with peak gusts of up to 100kph.

Temperatures forecast to reach 46 in Mildura and Swan Hill, 45 in Bendigo and Shepparton, and 44 in Horsham and Albury-Wodonga. Read more at ABC News: Victoria braces for hot, windy weather and extreme fire risk as total fire ban declared.

Vline goes to extreme heat timetables...

Heathealth for pets...

Hunter Valley: severe heatwave up to 40 degrees Friday and Saturday

Shepparton heading for possible heat record today

Echuca heading for a possible heat record today:

Walgett water crisis
The water crisis in Walgett amplified by heatwave temperatures...also read more at the Sydney Morning Herald: 'Bit of a panic' as roasting outback NSW town runs out of water.

Critical water in shocking is this?

Paddlesteamers once plied the Barwon river as far as Walgett at times of high river flow from 1861...and today? The Walgett Shire Council describes "today the river is barely navigable for long stretches", which is a slight understatement given these photos:

This is part of the ongoing mismanagement of the Murray Darling Basin and it's tributary system. Excess water allocation, bureacracy and politics turning a blind eye to water theft for irrigation upstream. All this under a Liberal National State Government and Federal Government. Barnaby Joyce was the Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources for 4 years from September 2013 to December 2017 who wanted to turn a blind eye and downplay the allegations of massive water theft.

Update: NITV news - Walgett water supply reconnected, says Mayor

Sunrise on 7 appraise the weather conditions...

Hobart Today:

Canberra today:

Melbourne's west...

Melbourne cool change moves through with 20C+ drop in temperatures

Temperature drop at Avalon Airport (Melbourne):

Tracking the Heatwave Tmax temperatures in Victoria:

Tracking Heatwave Tmax temperatures in the Northern Territory:

Explainer about heatwaves in Australia:

Worthwhile to reflect on a conclusion of Tim Cowan et al (2014), More Frequent, Longer, and Hotter Heat Waves for Australia in the Twenty-First Century (PDF), which concluded: "A robust result from this study is that summer heat waves and winter warm spells will increase in frequency, duration, and amplitude across Australia, and this increase is strongly proportional both to the emission scenario, and to the latitude of a particular region (i.e., tropical versus extratropical). In addition, even if the heat waves are referenced to a warming mean state, the hottest events will gradually become hotter by the end of this century over southern Australia, particularly during winter and for the RCP8.5 high emission scenario."

The Conversation 2017 Factcheck article worth a read on the climate change trend in Australian heat events and heatwaves: Are heatwaves ‘worsening’ and have ‘hot days’ doubled in Australia in the last 50 years?

January 5

Heat moving into the Hunter Region of NSW for the weekend, according to a report in the Mussellbrook Chronicle. New heat records may be set...

“Extreme heat moving into populated areas of southern and eastern Australia for the next couple of days, it could break all-time January maximum temperature records in some places,” meteorologist Adam Morgan said.

“The heat will last into the weekend for eastern NSW, where western Sydney and areas of the Hunter Valley will see maximums up in the high 30s, or even towards 40 or even 41 degrees on Saturday.”

“So stay cool, hydrated and check on your loved ones as the heat hits over the next few days.”

Animal Welfare - Remote Noonkanbah Station in the Kimberleys being investigated for the death of hundreds of cattle during the current heatwave, according a an ABC News report.

Hottest December on record for Tmax temperatures
Peter Hannam in Sydney Morning Herald runs through some of the records already set: National records melt in 'prolonged spell of heat' with more to come.

Early on in the event, a slew of Australian records were set, such as a record 40.21 degrees average maximum for December on the 27th of the month.

That mark was also the second hottest day for any month of the year, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

The following overnight temperatures also brought Australia's highest average minimum December temperature of 24.16 degrees.

December 29's minimum was almost as warm, coming in at an average of 23.66 degrees - the second highest minimums on record for any December, the bureau said.

The year-end boost to temperatures meant Australia posted its hottest December on record for maximums.

Record setting day: 27 December - 40.21 degrees average maximum across Australia

Tips for sleeping in a heatwave?
Canberra Times: Take this advice for sleeping during a heatwave. We could have done with this article on December 22nd.

CQUniversity sleep expert Professor Drew Dawson said there are no quick fixes.
"I wish I could tell you there's some kind of amazing research or tips you can use, but it's pretty much: if it's hotter than you're used to, you'll struggle to get to sleep."

"To facilitate sleep onset, you drop your core temperature and raise your peripheral temperature," explains Professor Dawson. "And the hotter it gets, or the colder it gets, outside of what's called the thermal neutral zone, the more difficult that is to do."

For most people, the thermal neutral zone is considered to be between 18 to 28 degrees (in your bed, not outside).

"If you live in the tropics it tends to adjust up, if you live in a temperate climate it tends to adjust down," Professor Dawson says.

See also this 2013 article by Ron Grunstein, Professor of Sleep Medicine at Sydney University, published at the Conversation: Too hot to sleep? Here’s why.

Gippsland, Victoria
Firefighting equipment destroyed in Rosedale fire

A Farmer speaks on the heatwave and climate change.
Louise Freckelton from Farmers for Climate Action makes clear from a farming point of view experiencing the heatwave should push us all to anger at the level of political obfuscation and inaction.

Sydney gets a stormy cool change
"After a sweltering start to Saturday, the temperature plummeted from 40 to 26 degrees in just over 15 minutes at Sydney Airport, while the city dropped 10 degrees to 27 between 12pm and 2pm. With the temperature change came storms." Read more: 'Much more pleasant sleeping conditions' ahead as Sydney breaks hot streak with thunderstorms

January 6

The heat retreats to the Pilbara, but over the coming week is likely to build again and extend to SE Australia..


A previous week long extreme heatwave in Far North Queensland in December 2018 had a chilling effect on flying fox mortality. See Special Climate Statement 67: An Extreme heatwave on the tropical Queensland coast (PDF). See the SBS News report: Wildlife is struggling to cope with extreme weather, a new report says.(Maxwell et al, 2018, Conservation implications of ecological responses to extreme weather and climate events (Open Access))

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