Elsewhere in Weather News: January 10th, 2015

Bushfires Rage across Southern Australia

Dangerous wildfires flared up in the tinder-dry Adelaide region of Southern Australia early this past week, forcing residents to evacuate their homes.

It is not known what started the large bushfires, but weather conditions were the primary factor as to why the wildfires were able to spread so quickly. Long-term drought which has reached severe levels in the region was the first cause for concern that bushfires were possible. This past week’s summer-like weather was what caused the risk to turn into reality as temperatures rose anywhere between the mid-30s to as high as 42.5°C in the region. These temperatures combined with strong, dry (northerly) winds blowing from central Australia was all that was needed to fuel the fires. In total, a few thousand people had to be evacuated and about 40 houses and 12,500 hectares were lost from the bushfires even though nearly 2,000 firefighters battled the flames. The good news is that no severe injuries were reported and firefighters were able to save nearly 1,000 houses in the region.

Picture taken last Sunday outside Adelaide of the bushfires. (Source: Matteo Barr // @Matteobarr)
Picture taken last Sunday outside Adelaide of the bushfires. (Source: Matteo Barr // @Matteobarr)

Since mid-week fires have been under control, mainly due to more favourable weather conditions. A trough of low pressure brought both rainfall and cooler temperatures. The bushfire season is typically most severe from December to March in Southern Australia as temperatures soar and rainfall is scarce (January average of 25mm). Weather in the Adelaide region looks to remain fairly tame as the trough of low pressure lingers and brings overcast skies with occasional showers and cooler temperatures.

Elsewhere in Weather News: January 20th, 2013

Intense Heat Wave Continues in Australia

A significant heat wave has remained in place for most of Australia’s southern half, this past week. The large ridge of high pressure has kept about 70-80% of Australia under extreme high temperatures (over 40°C) and in turn has created dangerous conditions in which bushfires can occur. Total burn bans were in place for a few communities in the southern half of Australia and firefighters are on high alert. As of Friday there were 142 bushfires burning in New South Wales alone and 29 of them were 0% contained.

Temperature map

Map of Australia’s extreme temperatures on January 12th, 2013. (Source: Australia’s BOM)

Residents of Tasmania have been experiencing similar weather conditions this New Year, contributing to a massive brushfire that had been raging through a large area of its south-eastern peninsula two weeks ago. Here, 1,000 people had to be rescued by boat from their homes. The damage in that area has not yet been tallied, but at least 20 houses, including a school, has burned down to the ground and at least one person is confirmed dead.

On Friday, January 4th, the village of Wudinna, located on Australia’s southern coast, reached extreme temperatures of 48.2°C, and various other cities broke their daily temperature records as well. Adelaide recorded all-time January high temperatures on the same day as the mercury rose to 44.1°C. Even more impressively, on January 12th Moomba (South Australia) managed to reach a temperature of 49.6°C – Australia’s hottest temperature in 15 years. The average temperature for Southern Australia ranges between 25°C and 35°C in January, and a little cooler for areas along the coast. This past week, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology even had to go to the extreme by changing the temperature scale on their maps because temperatures constantly exceeded the scale during this intense heat wave.


Potential through coming through which would help cool down the temperatures late next week. Also to note a possible tropical disturbance on Australia’s north side. (Source: Australia’s BOM)

Although it is not uncommon to see heat waves affecting specific areas of Australia, to see between 70 and 80% of Australia experiencing a significant heat wave such as this one, is not a common sight. Significant heat will persist into next week before a large trough moves into the region and brings an end to the sweltering heat by next Friday. Interestingly enough, models are also showing a tropical cyclone forming off the Australia’s North Coast around the same time that the heat is predicted to come to an end.