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Asia Minute: Australia’s Sweltering Summer


While temperatures remain frigid across much of the mainland United States this week, it’s another story entirely in many parts of the Asia Pacific. That includes Australia—where some cities are seeing their hottest temperatures in decades. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

It was so hot this past weekend in southern Australia that the road melted.

That’s not an exaggeration. Authorities in the state of Victoria said the asphalt in a six-mile stretch of highway melted—becoming, “soft and sticky.”

It’s not only the highways that are sticky in Australia these days.

In the suburbs of Sydney, temperatures climbed to more than 117 degrees Fahrenheit the other day. That’s the hottest since 1939, and just shy of breaking that record.

Wildfires swept through nearly 50 miles of South Australia in the last few days – although conditions have now eased a bit.

In neighboring Victoria, residents were forced to evacuate because of fast-moving fires.

On the east coast of New South Wales, Sydney residents used more water over the weekend than they have at any point in the past 15 years.

This all follows what had already been a drier than usual season in September and October.

Since it’s the southern hemisphere, this is summer time down under. And while temperatures are expected to dip a bit in the middle of the week, forecasters say scorching heat is likely to return to Sydney by the end of the week.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology says last summer was the hottest on record for Sydney, but if this pattern holds, that could change.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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