Asia Minute: Australia’s Sweltering Heat Continues

Mar 4, 2019

The Victorian side of Lake Hume, about 5km to Hume Weir.
Credit Tim J Keegan / Creative Commons / Flickr

The weather has been a bit chillier than usual recently across much of Hawai‘i. It’s been another story entirely when it comes to Australia.

Australia has just sweltered through its hottest summer on record.

Seasons move in a different cycle down under with slightly differing start times — so autumn has just gotten underway with the beginning of March.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology says hundreds of individual heat records were shattered over the summer. Nationally the temperature was more than 2 degrees Celsius above the long-term average — that’s a little more than 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

It was a season of extremes. Christmas Day saw temperatures of 107 degrees Fahrenheit in Adelaide — nearly 115 degrees further south in Port Augusta. January was the hottest month on record in Australia.

The BBC spoke with a government climatologist who said “the real standout was just how widespread and prolonged each heatwave was.”

The heat killed wild horses, cattle, and millions of fish. It sparked wildfires, and the demand for air conditioning led to power outages.

Australia’s autumn is already off to its warmest start for that season in several decades, and the outlook is not encouraging. On Sunday, firefighters battled more than two dozen wildfires across Victoria State. And government forecasters say there is an 80-percent chance that weather conditions will remain “unusually warm” this year – nearly everywhere in the country.