Southeast Australia Endures Fall Heat Wave After Another Record-Breaking Summer

CREDIT: AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi

A tennis fan cools down in the fountain in the scorching heat during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014.

A fall heat wave has broken records in southeast Australia, with temperatures 9°F above average for May.

Earlier this month in Adelaide, the 81°F high was the hottest ever recorded for this time of year. If the city has four more days above 68°F, it’ll break the 15-day May record set in 2002. Sydney has spent 13 days in a row above 71°F, which beats its last nine-day record set in 2007. Forecasts have the heat sticking around the city for another seven days.

These temperatures aren’t high enough to cause major problems in the cities, besides prompting Sydney officials to keep swimming pools open longer than they usually do. But the warm fall does come on the heels of another “angry summer” in Australia, one that broke 156 temperature records in the country. In 2014, Sydney suffered through its driest summer in 27 years, Perth had its second-hottest summer on record, and Adelaide sweltered through a record 11 days at or above 107.6°F. Officials were also forced to halt the 2014 Australian Open after temperatures reached 110°F.

A report from Australia’s Climate Council, the privately-funded group that issues reports on the effects climate change is having in Australia, found that eight of the country’s hottest summers have occurred in the past 15 years. That intense heat and dryness has made bushfire season more dangerous — last year, for instance, New South Wales declared a state of emergency after bushfires destroyed 200 homes, with fires raging in conditions officials said were the most dangerous in 40 years.


CREDIT: The Climate Council

“The latest summer was another example of climate change tearing through the record books,” said Climate Council Head Tim Flannery. “It’s not just about one summer but an overall trend to more extreme weather. Things are getting bad and if we want to stop them getting worse this is the critical decade for action.”

Australia’s not the only country to contend with extreme heat over the last few months, however. Globally, last month tied for the warmest April ever recorded, and also made record books for becoming the first month in at least 800,000 years with CO2 levels rising above 400 parts per million every day. March, too, made records globally as the fourth-hottest on record.