On Wednesday we had over 150 trains cancelled in Melbourne because the 43 degree heat buckled the tracks, thousands of homes were without electricity, bushfires are blazing and our water supply is being depleted at an alarming rate.
Just another January in Melbourne.
Yes, there are the alarmists declaring that Mother Nature is fighting back with global warming as punishment for the way we mistreat our planet, while others are simply blaming the State Government for not being prepared (again) for our annual month of extremely hot weather.
Does the heat really justify front page headlines?
The 2003 European heat wave was one of the hottest summers on record in Europe. The heat wave led to health crises in several countries and combined with drought to create a crop shortfall in Southern Europe. Approximately 35,000 people died as a result of the heat wave.
1n 1983 and 1988 there were massive heatwaves throughout the United States with temperatures over 38°C resulting in thousands of deaths.
In 1972 New York had temperatures of over 32c for 16 days and almost 900 people died.
Well so far, despite three consecutive days of 43+ temperatures, I haven't read reports of any deaths. BUt then, I think we're better equipped to cope with the weather extremes our country throws at us on any day of the week (and in Melbourne, it's often all just on the one day!)
And 43 is pretty hot, but...
The highest temperature ever recorded anywhere in the world was El Azizia, Libya in 1922, 58°C. Greenland Ranch, California, with 134 °F on July 10, 1913, holds the record for the highest temperature ever officially observed in the United States - 56.7 °C. In Tirat Tsvi, Israel in 1942 it was 54°C, in Cloncurry, Queensland, we hit 53°C in 1889, and in 1881 the highest temperature in Europe was 50°C in Seville, Spain.
The interesting thing about these figures is the fact that most of the highest temperatures ever reached in each continent around the world were recorded in the early 1900s. (See here) So if global warming was to be considered true, then we'd have easily set new record temperatures by now.
The other thing I find interesting, as a magician, is the predictions (sorry, forecasts)The Bureau of Meterology have been making. I really wish I was given as much grace with my "forecasts" when I'm predicting a card a spectator might select.
Tuesday - they predicted we'd hit 38°C (Very close, we reached 37.5°C)
Wednesday 41°C (43.7°C)
Thursday 40°C (45.5°C)
Friday (today) 40°C (It was 45°C at 2pm)
Saturday 40°C (other websites say 41°C)
Sunday 31°C (others 39°C)
Monday 30°C (others 37°C)
When I checked at www.Weather.com.au (though they keep changing their predictions too) they told me:
So it looks like we'll be sweating it out for a week or two yet, but just pop a wet towel on your head and carry on because unless it gets a lot hotter it's still business as usual.
In early 2006, Adelaide was hit by a dry heat wave with temperatures reaching 40+ °C for five days in a row, we could come very close to breaking their record. (Though we did set a new record for Melbourne. Today's temperature of 43.8 degrees recorded at 1.52pm marked the first time since records began in 1855 that the city has had three consecutive days above 43.)
But in January 2008, Alice Springs recorded ten consecutive days of temperatures above 40 °C (104 °F) with the average temperature for that month being 39.8 °C (103.6 °F). In March 2008, Adelaide, experienced maximum temperatures of above 35 °C (95 °F) for fifteen consecutive days, seven days more than the previous longest stretch of 35 °C (95 °F) days. The March 2008 heat wave also included eleven consecutive days above 38 °C (100 °F). The heat wave was especially notable because it occurred in March, an autumn month, in which Adelaide averages only 2.3 days above 35 °C (95 °F)
But it still wasn't as bad as July 2006, when the United States experienced a massive heat wave, and almost all parts of the country had recorded temperatures above the average temperature for that time of year. Temperatures in some parts of South Dakota exceeded 115 °F (46 °C), causing many problems for the residents. Also, California experienced temperatures that were extraordinarily high, with records ranging from 100 to 130 °F (38 to 54 °C).
However, we Aussies can still hold our heads proudly. The record for the longest heatwave in the world is generally accepted to have been set at Marble Bar, Australia, where from October 31, 1923 to April 07, 1924 the temperature broke the 37.8 °C/100 °F benchmark, setting the heat wave record at a scorching 160 days.
"Hot enough for ya?"