Summer is well and truly back in Australia

Maximum temperature for the 4th Jan 2013.

Maximum temperature for the 4th Jan 2013.

By Claire

After two consecutive La Nina events, which brought mild and wet winters to eastern Australia, the Australian summer is back!

Temperatures above 40°C were seen across as much as 80% of the Australian continent over the last few days, in the most wide-spread heatwave seen in Australia since 2001.

In Canberra temperatures on Saturday topped 40°C, making it the capital’s hottest day since 2009. These warm temperatures are predicted to continue throughout the week, with the Bureau forecasting temperatures in the mid to high 30s for the rest of the week (with the exception of Thursday, which will be a relatively cool 29°C).

MSLP map for the 6th Jan 2013.

MSLP map for the 6th Jan 2013.

These hot conditions are being caused by a very warm air mass, which is currently sitting over southern Australia, having been brought down from central Australia by a high pressure system.

The past two years of cooler and wetter conditions have meant that large fuel loads have developed across much of Australia, increasing the risk of bushfires now that the ground cover has dried out.

Fire Danger for NSW for the 8th Jan.

Fire Danger for NSW for the 8th Jan.

A “catastrophic” fire danger is in place for today for the Illawarra/Shoalhaven and Southern Ranges. Catastrophic fire conditions essentially represent the worst possible conditions for bush fires. In these conditions, evacuation is the only option, since it is not considered safe to stay and defend property.

Today’s fire danger across NSW is being described as the “worst ever conditions”.

This is largely due to a combination of very warm temperatures and strong Northwesterly winds moving through the state this morning. In these conditions, fires will start and spread very easily, presenting a great risk to life and property.

But please don’t begin to panic! These catastrophic fire conditions are largely only valid for properties which adjoin bushland. Properties that lie within suburban areas are generally safe.

For more information on the fire danger for your area, and to learn more about how to prepare your property, see the NSW Rural Fire Service website.

2 responses to “Summer is well and truly back in Australia

  1. brendanhanger

    The predicted temperatures in some parts of South Australia are expected to be higher then the scale used on current temperature prediction maps (where red was 50 C), however no the Bureau of Meteorology has been forced to add purple above this extend the scale to 54 C – see http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/charts/viewer/index.shtml?type=T&level=2m&tz=AEDT&area=Au&model=CG&chartSubmit=Refresh+View

  2. Wow. That’s really quite scary. I can’t even imagine what 54C would be like! FYI, the maximum temperature ever recorded in January in Australia was 50.7C on the 2nd January 1960 at Oodnadatta Airport, SA. 54C would break that record easily!!

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