View Full Version : Melbourne Faces Its Worst Heat Wave in Century

01-28-2009, 01:56 PM

Jan. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Melbourne, host city for the Australian Open tennis competition, is preparing for its longest heat wave in a century, which may push energy demand to records.

The Victorian state capital, Australia’s second-most populous city, may have four days of temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) from today, said Blair Trewin, climatologist with the National Climate Center. That would be the longest stretch since 1908, he said.

A high pressure system over the Tasman sea is pushing northerly winds over southeastern Australia, causing extreme heat in Victoria and South Australia. The weather pattern is likely to increase demand for power to run air conditioners and coolers and has already forced some players to withdraw from the competition.

“The high pressure system is hardly predicted to move for several days and that’s definitely flowing through into a very prolonged period of extreme heat,” Trewin said by phone from Melbourne. “It’s certainly unusual.”

Melbourne reached 43.2 degrees Celsius as at 4:26 p.m. local time, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s Web site. The city may reach 43 degrees Celsius tomorrow and 40 degrees the following two days, forecaster Trewin said.

45.7 Degrees

Train tracks in Melbourne buckled because of the heat, causing cancellations and delays, the Age newspaper said, citing transport operator Connex. At least 58 train services had been scrapped, it said. Thoroughbred Racing SA canceled a scheduled horse racing event today at Gawler, South Australia, because of the heat, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

In South Australia, the state capital Adelaide reached 45.7 degrees at 3:31 p.m. local time. Temperatures are predicted to be above 40 degrees through to Saturday, Trewin said.

Both states banned all fires in most parts today as temperatures soar.

“The heat wave also posed a serious fire risk for the state,” Victorian Premier John Brumby said in an e-mailed statement yesterday after being briefed by emergency services and agencies. “This week’s heat wave is longer and hotter than nearly all Victorians have experienced in a lifetime.”

Demand for energy is expected to reach record levels, Brumby said. Recent figures suggest there will be adequate electricity supply to meet demand, he said.

Wholesale electricity prices in South Australia surged to A$2,484 a megawatt-hour in the half-hour ended 1:30 p.m. today as demand rose to 3,268 megawatts, according to data from the National Electricity Market Management Co. That was almost 10 times the price of an hour earlier.

01-28-2009, 02:32 PM
I am so glad I am not there. Extreme heat and I are life long enemies. I dread when Summer comes every year. It makes me long for NovaScotia.

01-28-2009, 03:42 PM
Ross must be melting.

01-28-2009, 04:54 PM
I'm sure Ross is melting, I'm frying. What concerns me today is the possibility of very bad fires.

Ought Six
01-28-2009, 08:38 PM
Heatwave opens social faultlines (http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/734864/heatwave-opens-social-faultlines)

NineMSN and Agence France-Presse
Thu Jan 29 2009

The heatwave sweeping south-east Australia is pushing parts of society to breaking point.

As temperatures soar to record levels, bosses and workers in the construction industry are at odds over hot-weather policies and transport bosses have blamed unions rather than networks for most service failures.

CFMEU Victoria vice-president Shaun Reardon reaffirmed the right of construction workers to take paid leave from work under inclement weather regulations.

"35C has been the cut-off temperature for a number of years: it's too hot to be standing over a jackhammer or pouring concrete and it's an obvious OH&S risk to workers," he said.

Mr Reardon claimed the weather was not usually a major issue for the industry, with most extremely hot days falling in the holiday period and "only a couple of days last year" were inclement.

"This year, it's one out of the blue — I heard this morning it's the worst heatwave in 100 years," he said.

"Obviously some of the bosses are getting a bit hot under the collar but it's just one of those things."

But Master Builders Association of Victoria executive director Brian Welsh suggested workers and unions were exploiting the extreme weather to avoid work.

"There are inclement weather provisions and you wouldn't have people working outside in such temperatures but those provisions allow for work to be done in shaded areas and there's plenty of fit-out work that can be done safely," he said.

"In the past, then unions have said 'your colleagues have gone home, you can too' — it shouldn't be like that.

"If there's meaningful work to be done in safe conditions, they should be made to do it.

"But the unions have such sway over the industry that we might get some retaliatory action if the regulations were properly enforced."

Mr Welsh said climate change had reduced days lost to wet weather in Victoria but said an increase in work lost to heat would damage the industry.

"If companies fall behind in schedules of work, they face liquidation damages which are the penalties that can be claimed in the event of late delivery," he said.

"That not only impacts on the bottom line but can threaten the business and indeed the industry."

Tensions are also running high in the transport industry, with Connex launching an extraordinary attack on train drivers.

The beleaguered company has blamed drivers and not heat for 80 per cent of cancelled services in recent days.

Yesterday, 243 trains were cancelled — about 12 per cent of services — and many more ran late, while 50 services out of a total of 525 have been cancelled today with 18 of those in-bound to the city during peak hour and 16 were out-bound during peak.

Connex staff have blamed failed air-conditioners and major power failures on some lines but chief Jonathan Metcalfe told ABC radio train drivers were to blame for the bulk of the cancellations.

"It's the drivers' component of the trade union, it's not our employees — it's a very, very difficult, very, very deep-rooted issue," he said.

"It does mean that a very high proportion of the cancellations that we have seen over the recent days and weeks could have otherwise been avoided."

A spokesman from the Rail, Tram and Bus Union of Australia was not immediately available to comment on the claims.

But if humans are wilting under the heat, other members of the animal kingdom are showing the way.

The occupants at Melbourne Zoo have been enjoying icy treats to keep them cool with meerkats receiving ice blocks with mice inside, the tree kangaroos and gorillas are given chilled watermelon and the elephants suck on frozen bran and fruit blocks.

"They all have plenty of shade and plenty of drinking water and the ones that like to swim have pools," spokeswoman Judith Henke said.

"The keepers keep a close eye on them."

Emily Rice from Adelaide Zoo said their animals are treated to ice blocks every day and some of the animals including orangutans and tigers even have airconditioned living spaces.

"When the temperature goes above 37C the animals get access to their night quarters," Ms Rice said.

The koalas and rainforest animals also have misters to sit under if they get too hot.

"Our giraffes and African animals are quite OK," Ms Rice said.

"Everyone is a little wilty but they seem to be managing just fine."

Sydney's Taronga Zoo residents have not been under as much stress but spokesperson Danielle McGill said the animals have been a little more lethargic than usual but are "quite adaptable" to hot conditions.

"The animals go into the shade under the trees ... they are a lot more sensible than people," she said.

Melbourne sweltered through the city's second warmest January night on record and Adelaide continues to cope with record-breaking temperatures.

The minimum temperature reached in Melbourne overnight was 28.7C just after 3am this morning, Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Dean Stewart said.

This falls just behind the record minimum temperature for January of 28.8C on January 21, 1997 while the overall record occurred on February 1, 1902 with 30.5C.

And Melbourne can expect another hot day today with a top of 43C expected and winds that could cause big headaches for firefighters.

"Today's probably the worst of the days (for bushfires) in that the wind is going to be quite fresh and blustery, particularity over western and central parts of Victoria this morning," Mr Stewart said.

And the records may keep coming for Melbourne: if the city reaches the forecasts of three consecutive days of 43C, this would be a first ever.

South Australia is also heading for record hot weather with national parks and reserves on Adelaide's fringes closed as extreme heat and fire danger drag into another day.

The furnace-like conditions were forecast to continue until at least Sunday, likely giving the city six days in a row above 40C for the first time since 1908, after Tuesday's top of 43.2 and 45C yesterday.

01-29-2009, 03:00 AM
It is the wild life that is suffering . I just found a dead possum if the
front yard . I have put out some dishes of water but I think it is too late ,
even birds are not visible ( @ 6 pm ) .
I guess they are sheltering somewhere .

I have considered organizing a proper bird bath but I fear my cat
would just use it as the preferred kill zone. I might spend some
time on the weekend looking for one that can be mounted very high.

It hit 44C ( 111.2 F ) today .

I took the dog for a walk last night and after about half a mile it
refused to walk so I carried it most of the way home .
( Thanks you lazy wimp mutt ) .

01-29-2009, 04:22 AM
News reports of possums drinking from swimming pools - in daylight and with childrn in them.

I have the backyard kids pool filled for Dog + wildlife. Fortunately a change has just gone through bringing temps down to 36C.

I may go down to main park and organise some fresh water for the animals after dinnner.