The reports here summarise weather events and climate news, including a round-up of their media coverage. They are archived in the relevant day's Daily Weather Summary to help make it a more complete record of the day's events. Timeliness of the reports is entirely at the mercy of my available time so, for the most up-to-date information, make good use of my media links here.
Heatwave continues as further pulse of heat crosses the nation
Sat 5 Jan 2019
Records fell again in the NT, SA, VIC and NSW as another pulse of heat crossed the country between Wednesday 2 and Saturday 5 January extending heatwave conditions across the SE quarter of the continent.
- On Thursday 3 January, Central Australia and much of SA roasted once more, setting all-time records for heat in The Centre and in some cases breaking records set only five days ago. Alice Springs Airport equalled the 45.6° all-time record set on 29 December, but elsewhere in The Centre and western SA temperatures pushed into the 46s and 47s. Top temperatures were an all-time record 47.4° at Walungurru near the WA/NT border W of Alice Springs and 47.1 at Ceduna Airport on the coast of the Great Australian Bight, 18.4° above average.
- Alice Springs Airport had nine days between 27 December and 4 January when top temperatures exceeded 43.0°, the longest run of consecutive days over 43.0 in nearly 80 years. Previously, the longest run was four, in 1960 and 2004. Up to Friday 4 January, the Airport recorded temperatures over 45.0 only five times, three in the previous week.
- On Friday 4 January, the trough and frontal system ducting hot northwesterly winds before it brought maxima over 45° to most of eastern SA, SW NSW and NW VIC. Many locations in VIC registered their hottest January day on record with Walpeup in the state's west highest at 46.6. That was just 0.6° shy of the state January record of 47.2 set in Mildura in the lead-up to the 1939 Black Friday Bushfires. Major centres didn't fare much better with Mildura recording 46.4, Albury 43.7, Bendigo 44.5, Hobart Airport 35.6 and Melbourne Airport 43.4, a sizzling 16.9° above average. The cold change when it came through Melbourne couldn't be missed: the temperature at Olympic Park in central Melbourne dropped 15.3° in 10 minutes, settling over 25° below the maximum.
- In TAS, a dramatic orange/brown pall of smoke was cast over Hobart from the Gell River fire, burning in inaccessible country NW of Mt Field National Park. The fire had burnt through over 150 sq km by Saturday 5th as 17 other fires burnt in the state.
- In VIC, while rescuing kids from locked cars and people from being drowned at beaches kept emergency services busy, major fires burned at Rosedale, near Sale, and Strathbogie, SE of Euroa. Reuters and the ABC said that by Saturday 5th the Rosedale fire had burnt more than 100 sq km, and CFA helicopter photos showed the dramatic extent and intensity of the fire. Nearly 200 bushfires burnt across the state during Friday 4th.
- By Saturday 5 January, the trough was moving through NSW pushing the heat NE towards QLD. Minimum temperatures were high enough in the Central West and on the SW Slopes to set new January record warm nights at stations with 15 tp 25-year histories, though Tumbarumba had its highest January minimum in 52 years with 25.9°. Many inland locations didn't see the temperature fall below 30. As often happens ahead of a front, Sydney had a hot day with maxima of 40.3° both at the Airport and Richmond, while Newcastle also sweated with a maximum of 40.9 at Williamtown.
- An imposing line of thunderstorms moved across NSW to finish the day, bringing cooler southerlies but also the risk of lightning-ignited fires. A fire at South Maroota in outer NW Sydney earlier threatened houses.
Heatwave conditions intensify in the Centre and Southeast
Sat 29 Dec 2018
| Extreme temperatures extended into Central Australia today 29th and continued to bring sweltering weather to the SW half of NSW and along the Murray Valley. BoM
The huge heat dome covering large parts of the continent continued to affect the WA Interior, and moved into Central Australia to give Alice Springs Airport the hottest day experienced there in nearly 80 years. Also, on Saturday morning 29th, the Snowy Mountains and much of the Murray Valley sweltered with minimum temperatures the warmest for December in decades. Full records are in the AWN DWS for today.
Alice Springs recorded a top temperature of 45.6°, the all-time highest at the Airport station since it opened in 1941. The previous all-time record was 45.2 in January 1960 while the hottest December day was 44.2 in 1972. 275km S of Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway, almost on the NT/SA border, Kulgera equalled its all-time highest temperature on record (45.5°, 40-year history), while Curtin Springs (46.0°, 53 years), Yuendumu (44.8, 46 years) and Yulara (46.0, 31 years) all had their hottest December days.
Weather records at The Alice go back a long way for such an isolated location. Because a telegraph repeater station was established there in 1871, a weather station was set up only seven years later transferring to the Post Office site in town in 1932. The highest temperature recorded before observations moved to the Airport was 47.5° at the old Telegraph Station on 24 December 1891, 1.9° higher than today's new record.
But there's a but. This photo of the Telegraph Station taken in 1880, two years after the weather station was established, shows how it was encircled by ridges of the MacDonnell Ranges. The temperatures are believed to have been taken in a Stevenson type screen, and it's known the screen was surrounded by a 1m high rock wall painted white. Both the surrounding wall and the nearby ridges would have reflected heat and interrupted wind flow creating a suntrap effect at the site. The Airport, however, is on an open plain 12km S of the city and 8km away from the MacDonnells. It is likely that the old Telegraph Station site was a warmer one than the Airport, but as the two stations never operated simultaneously to allow comparisons, we can only speculate whether today's Airport record would have beaten that of the Telegraph Station in a fair fight.
Elsewhere, people in parts of the Murray Valley had one of the hottest nights they've known, but a "cool" front moving through during the day gave more modest daytime temperatures in the mid to high 30s. Hume Reservoir just east of Albury had its warmest-ever night with a low of 28.4° in 55 years of observations, while Griffith Airport's 31.0° was its highest in 48 years. Six other stations set new December records including Thredbo and Cabramurra.
Changes made to AWN's OCF forecast pages
Fri 28 Dec 2018
Changes were made to the web addresses of all OCF forecast pages this morning. They have changed from .htm pages to .shtml pages, just a tiny change but one that gives more flexibility in adding improvements to these very popular pages.
An immediate advantage is that I can insert important information for users right on the page, above the forecast table. This could include information on delays to the forecasts or the absence of forecasts for particular locations and what is being done to fix them. I'll also put here occasional links to articles or other resources on the site that may interest those on the land, who are the main users of the OCF pages.
During 2019, I will make the OCF pages more mobile-friendly as I try to reconcile the large amounts of information AWN now communicates concisely on one page with the small screen sizes of mobiles. More about this next year.
Heatwave spans the country as temperatures push to high 40s
Thu 27 Dec 2018
| Maximum temperatures above 39° covered the majority of the nation today 27th. Most of the inland exceeded 42 while large parts of WA and SA saw the mercury rise over 45. Marble Bar, famous for its heat, set an all-time record of 49.3°. BoM
Unless you lived in TAS or within a few hundred kilometres of the coast, you would have seen temperatures climb over 39° on Thursday 27th. Most of SA and NW WA didn't even have that luxury, with 40°-plus temperatures reaching right to the water. The country's third significant heatwave this summer is in progress.
Across SW NSW, the western two-thirds of VIC and the southern half of SA maximum temperatures were between 12 and 18° above the December average. Two dozen weather stations in WA, SA, NSW and VIC set new December records.
The most blazing heat, where you could have cooked a whole bush turkey on the road as well as fried the eggs, was in the WA Pilbara. This is where Marble Bar set its legendary run of 162 consecutive days reaching or exceeding the old 100°F (37.8°C) mark from October 1923 to April 1924. It's a record that still hasn't been beaten anywhere in the world. This December the heat has been relentless, with top temperates in the town averaging just over 44° and hitting 48.0 and 48.5 in the past two days. Residents would have known they were in for the hottest of days this morning when the temperature rose from a refreshing minimum of 27.9 just before dawn to 44.2 at 09.00 WST, then 46.2 by 10.00.
The heat topped out at 49.3° about 16.30. It is a new all-time record for the town where temperature has been measured since 9 February 1901. The previous all-time record was 49.2 on 3 January 1922. It was also the second-highest December temperature on record for the state of WA and the third-highest for December nationally after Birdsville QLD (49.5) and Roebourne WA (49.4). There must have been a sigh of relief when the sea breeze finally blew in about 17.30, dropping the temperature to under 40 in an hour.
Another place deserving mention in the Pilbara is Wittenoom which also recorded its all-time hottest day in 68 years of observations with 47.8°, while its overnight minimum of 34.0 was its highest on record for December. On the coast, Onslow and Roebourne were not far behind Marble Bar with tops of 49.1 and 48.9°, and it is interesting to speculate how high they would have gone had the sea breeze not come in during the early afternoon, bringing humidity and dropping temperature slowly.
New December records were also set in a broad band from Woomera and Port Augusta, through Adelaide and up the Murray Valley. Conditions around the head of Spencer Gulf were not far shy of those in the Pilbara with Whyalla Airport reaching a December record 46.8, 18.5 above average, and Port Augusta Airport also getting to 46.8. December records fell around Adelaide with 43.7° at Kent Town (16.4 above average and a 40-year history), 43.9 at Edinburgh (47 years) and 44.4 at Rosedale (56 years). Ten stations along the Murray Valley from Murray Bridge to Albury set or equalled December records with temperatures in the 43s or 44s.
In other capitals, temperatures hovered just over 40° in NW and NE Melbourne and just under in other parts of the city away from Bay breezes. In Sydney, the temperature rose to 39.6 at Penrith Lakes but fell away to the low 30s closer to the coast.
Merry Christmas to all AWN users
Tue 25 Dec 2018
Happy Christmas, with this unbelievably cute snowy Christmas picture taken Sunday evening in Tromsø, Norway. For a treat, look at this dashcam footage of a REAL white Christmas scene, a drive through Rânca Pass in central Romania last Thursday, with the snow deep and even, and a dense forest coated top to bottom in a mix of snow, hoar frost and rime.
In his blog on Saturday, Dreaming of a White Chrismas, Christopher Burt says "Ever since Bing Crosby belted out Irving Berlin’s classic song “White Christmas” in the 1942 film Holiday Inn (and again in the eponymous 1954 musical), it seems that one of the holy grails of weather events is a snowy Christmas. Of course, there are few places in the world where this is possible (or where anyone cares!)..."
Russia falls into the "nobody cares" category, though you have to care when you open your door, as in Vorkuta, in the northern Urals last Saturday, to find this. The fix is hard work. In Australia, a record-breaking heatwave is more likely, such as the one that toured the country in the lead-up to Christmas [AWN DWS 20, 21, 22 December, or below], and the follow-up forecast to affect all states and territories from Christmas into early 2019.
Sat 22 Dec 2018 QLD, WA: Heatwave continues in the north. A prolonged heatwave is slowly making a circuit of the continent. High temperatures which lingered in WA from Friday 14th began moving into Central Australia on Sunday 16th and SA the next day. By Tuesday 18th, they had spread across most of NSW and SW QLD bringing top temperatures over 12° above normal in western NSW on Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th. Since then, high temperatures have pushed north into NW QLD and across to the WA Kimberley and Pilbara, with forecasts indicating heatwave conditions are poised to start another circuit from WA to SE Australia.
Hotspots on Saturday 22nd were NW QLD and the WA Pilbara. The QLD Gulf Country sweated through a night where the temperature didn't fall below the low 30s. Lake Julius, about 60km NNE of Mt Isa, had a minimum of 32.7°, while Mt Isa equalled its hottest December night in 53 years of observations with 30.7. Julia Creek, where weather recording started at the PO in 1965 and transferred to airport in 2001, had its all-time hottest night with 31.5 while its maximum of 46.4 was a December record and only missed being an all-time record by 0.1°. The maximum the day before was 46.2. It was hotter, just, in the Pilbara where Mandora reached 47.0, well below its highest temperature in 56 years of 48.4.
Fri 21 Dec 2018 QLD, WA: Sweltering nights and scorching days in the north. Australia's peripatetic heatwave has moved into the country's north with a brace of all-time and December records set or equalled on Friday 21st. Most noteworthy was Doongan, 130km SSW of Kalumburu in the North Kimberley, where the overnight minimum was 31.1, 1.1° above its previous all-time record warm night and 2.4° above its previous December record in a climate history going back 30 years. The highest temperatures, though, were in NW QLD where top maxima of 46 to 46.8 and top minima of 30 to 33.0 were recorded.
Thu 20 Dec 2018 NSW, QLD: Heat moves east and north into central NSW, SW QLD. Maximum temperatures across a huge area of inland Australia exceeded 42° on Thursday 20th. A trough lying from the NT and SW QLD moved east today, continuing to draw very hot air into NSW. Within the trough, a deep low in western NSW strengthened the northwesterly winds over Central Western NSW, raising temperatures there into the mid-40s. Cobar Met Office, Peak Hill PO and Trangie Research Station were three stations in the area that had their highest December temperatures in over a half a century of observations. Cobar Met Office's top of 45.6 added 0.7° to the new December record it set yesterday, which in turn added 0.8° to the old 2005 record of 44.1. Condobolin Airport's top temperature of 44.5 added 1.1° to its previous December record in a 25-year history, and Parkes Airport equalled their record 42.0. Many of the maxima were more than 12° above average.
However, the highest temperatures were well above these in an area covering NW NSW and SW QLD. Bourke Airport's top of 47.3 broke its 21-year December record by 1.0°, but was still shy of the town's December record of 47.9 set at the old Post Office site in 1981, and a country mile off the NSW state December record of 48.9, held by Brewarrina Hospital back in 1912. In SW QLD, the highest temperature was 47.2 at Thargomindah Airport, breaking the December record it set only yesterday 19th by a whopping 1.9°. It was the highest December temperature recorded at either the old Post Office site or the Airport in a combined run of 60 years, but still below the state December record of 49.5 set in 1972 by Birdsville Police Station. Birdsville has recorded the top nine temperatures in December in QLD, so it will be a hard place to beat; there is good reason for the Birdsville Pub's enviable fame.
As all the record-smashing suggests, these are highly abnormal temperatures for December. Over in the west, and as a sign of heat to come, the nearly coastal Kalumburu in the north Kimberley also set a 21-year all-time record with a top temperature of 42.6. This was also higher than the top December temperature of 42.3 recorded at the Kalumburu Mission station between 1941 and 2005, and just 0.2° short of the Mission's all-time hot day in November 1962.
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