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Heatwave spreads from west to deliver record heat to south-eastern states

 
Lion

Lion enjoying giant icy-pole at Perth zoo: now Adelaide is expecting five consecutive days above 40C. Photograph: AAP Image/Perth zoo

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Heatwave spreads from west to deliver record heat to south-eastern states” was written by Oliver Milman, for theguardian.com on Monday 13th January 2014 05.18 UTC

A heatwave has swept from Western Australia across South Australia, Victoria and parts of western NSW, prompting health warnings for the very young and elderly.

Adelaide is set for one of its fiercest bouts of temperatures on record, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting five consecutive days above 40C this week, peaking at 43C on Wednesday.

It will be the longest stretch of 40C days in Adelaide since 2009, when the South Australian capital experienced six consecutive days above this mark.

Melbourne is also in the grip of escalating temperatures, with temperatures set to reach 41C on Tuesday, dipping to 39C before ending the week on 40C.

Regional areas of South Australia, Victoria and NSW are experiencing even warmer temperatures, with Swan Hill in Victoria set for three consecutive days of 44C this week, while Waikerie in South Australia will reach 45C on Thursday. Broken Hill in NSW will bake in temperatures above 40C all week, according to the bureau.

South Australia’s state emergency service has urged the public to drink plenty of fluids, stay indoors, not leave children or pets in cars and prepare for potential power outages due to the scorching temperatures.

The SES said people should visit elderly relatives and protect young children from the heat, given the vulnerability to hot weather of very young and older people.

Scott Turner, acting deputy chief of the SES, said the heat has a “huge impact” on the body, warning that the mortality rate rises when temperatures rise precipitously.

In Melbourne, temperatures are expected to peak at 35C around 6pm on Monday, making for an uncomfortable home commute, although Metro Trains has confirmed there will be no alterations to its timetable. It looks unlikely that Melbourne will beat its record of five consecutive days over 40C, set in 1908.

The heatwave has been caused by a warm front that has spread from Western Australia. The state is currently battling bushfires which have destroyed 44 homes. Live updates on the bushfire situation can be found here.

Alasdair Hainsworth, assistant director for weather services at the Bureau of Meteorology, said the heatwave was picked up by its new pilot heatwave forecast service.

“What is unusual about this event, which the pilot heatwave forecast shows, is that when high maximum temperatures and above average minimum temperatures are sustained over a number of days, there is a build-up of ‘excess’ heat,” he said.

“Extreme heatwave conditions can be seen in southern NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.”

Victoria’s chief health officer Dr Rosemary Lester said: “The body normally sweats to cool down but sometimes sweating isn’t enough and rising body temperature can lead to heat stress.

“The effects of heat-related illnesses can range from mild conditions such as a rash or cramps to very serious conditions such as heat stroke, which can be fatal.

“Importantly, heat may worsen the condition of someone who already has a medical condition such as heart disease.”

 

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