Heatwave spans the country as temperatures push to high 40s
Thu 27 Dec 2018
Updated Mon 14 Jan 2019
| 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 nationwide average maximum hit 40.21°, the highest on record for December. The heat lingered through the night making Friday morning 28th also the warmest on record for December with a national average minimum of 24.16°.
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.
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