We’ve experienced record-breaking temperatures in Sydney this week. The Bureau of Meteorology has even introduced new colours for their weather forecasting maps!
On Monday, it was in the mid twenties (degrees Centigrade). It felt quite pleasant because the breeze was slightly cooling. This is not unusual for Sydney and the coastal regions of New South Wales. The sea acts as a cooling system for the city, providing off-shore and on-shore winds as a result of differential temperatures of land and water.
On Tuesday, however, the temperature was forecast to hit 42°C in the city of Sydney. Tuesday was the day on which the heat dome that is sitting on Australia and, in particular, on South Eastern Australia stretched itself over Sydney. The television news, and family and friends, warned us to stay in as much as possible and to drink lots of water.
I wasn’t sure whether or not I believed it but, in the end, it came true.
It was 22°C on our balcony, 16 floors up, at 7.45 a.m. That in itself is not unusual but by 11.30 a.m. it was 35°C in the city! That is unusual. It reached 40°C by about 2.30 p.m. and then started to come down but it was still over 37°C at 8 p.m.
It remained a few degrees cooler on our balcony during the day but at night it stabilised at about the same temperature. It was still about 34°C on the balcony at 11 pm. Between midnight and 1 a.m. the cooler air swept in from the South and the temperature finally fell – by about 10 degrees!
What was extraordinary was also the humidity, or lack of it. It was about 20% humidity even at 8 p.m. This contrasts to normally much higher levels here.
So, how did it feel? It felt like an oven. In the afternoon, when a breeze got up, it felt like a fan oven! Or, like having a number of hair dryers switched on and directed at you! It was breathtakingly hot. The tiles on our balcony, which are normally cool to the touch, were still warm two days later.
Of course, I’m not going to complain too much. Firstly, I have air-conditioning to enjoy. Secondly, it lasted only a day. Outside the city, in particularly in country New South Wales, it is like this day after day after day. That would be a sapping prospect.
Although our temperatures have returned to more manageable and pleasant levels, the rest of the country is still sweltering. The Australian Government’s Bureau of Meteorology has recognised the new maximum temperatures and added two new colours – purple and pink – to its map of forecast temperatures.
Picture from the Australian Government’s Bureau of Meteorology. Click on it and go to the website, select “Temperature” in the first drop-down menu (labelled “Show”) to see the current forecast.
We are expecting more thirty-degree days next week. However, as an aside on the difficulties in forecasting weather here, we were forecast to have another day of a maximum of 39°C today, on Saturday 12 January 2013. This did not happen. It clouded over and the air came in from the South again. However, in Newcastle (New South Wales), 75 miles to the North, it did reach those forecast maximums!