A vast area of Australia, from the Great Sandy Desert to Sydney Harbor, sweltered under extreme heat Thursday and Friday. For some in the central part of the country, the heatwave is over; for others, it will continue into the weekend.
At least three significant records were broken on Friday.
- Sydney Airport reported its warmest February temperature at 109.2 degrees Fahrenheit. The previous February record was 108.7 degrees in 1980.
- The airport in Adelaide, South Australia, had its third day in a row of temperatures above 104 degrees, which is significant since it’s 40 degrees Celsius. Consecutive heat like this hasn’t happened since 1914 in that location — what is usually the colder, southern part of Australia.
- Mildura, Victoria, next to the border of New South Wales, reached 114.8 degrees (46 Celsius) for the second day in a row, which is also something that has never happened at that airport.
A significant record not yet set: Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology expects a record for the entire state of New South Wales on Saturday — the hottest February day on record at 116.6 degrees in the western part of the state. It hasn’t been this dangerously hot in the region since 2013, the bureau said.
The shear extent of the heat is extreme, let alone peak temperatures, the Guardian reports:
Stephen Wood, a senior forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, said roughly 20 percent of Australia — an area equivalent to 1.5m sq km (roughly 580,000 square miles) — would experience peak temperatures of over [104 degrees Fahrenheit] on Saturday.
“To have such a large area of temperatures above [104 degrees Fahrenheit] and for so long is definitely unusual,” he said. “These next three days, large areas are going to suffer through the pain of it, unfortunately.”
Heat of this magnitude would put extreme stress on the U.S. power grid, but interestingly, energy experts in Australia are unconcerned. Cool heads prevail for one simple reason, ABC News Australia reports: “The high uptake of rooftop solar in the southern part of the state had reduced the overall load on the power network.”