A 4500km conveyor belt of heat is stretching from Broome to Canberra. Picture: BSCH.
A 4500km conveyor belt of heat is stretching from Broome to Canberra. Picture: BSCH.

Horror 50C heatwave to hit Australia

A 4500km conveyor belt of scorching weather stretching from Broome all the way to the country's south east could prove "dangerous" in the coming days as Australians have yet to acclimatise to the blistering conditions following a wet and cool spring, a climate scientist has warned.

The all-time record for Australia's hottest ever November day could be broken with the mercury rising close to 50C.

There's also a possibility the Sydney and Adelaide CBDs could top out at 40C. Sydney's west is expected to easily get into the 40s on both Saturday and Sunday.

"There's a big build-up of heat in a belt stretching from Broome to Canberra. Once we get to Thursday that will start to kick in across the south and east and peak on the weekend," Dr James Goldie from Monash University's Climate Change Communications Research Hub told news.com.au.

A 4500km conveyor belt of heat is stretching from Broome to Canberra. Picture: BSCH.
A 4500km conveyor belt of heat is stretching from Broome to Canberra. Picture: BSCH.

TOWNS NEARING 50C

Dr Goldie singled out Echuca and Kerang, in Victoria, as two towns that could break their all-time monthly heat records. Kerang's record November high of 44C, set in 2012, is set to be equalled on Saturday and it wouldn't take much for it to be beaten.

Kerang could see temperatures fall on Saturday, something that is becoming a common event. Picture: Monash University.
Kerang could see temperatures fall on Saturday, something that is becoming a common event. Picture: Monash University.

But that's small fry compared to Tarcoola, Roxby Downs and Oodnadatta in South Australia and Birdsville in outback Queensland.

Right in the path of the heat conveyor, Tarcoola could see temperatures exceed its previous best of 48.7C on Saturday which would mean the rural town would become the site of Australia's hottest November day in history.

However, Tarcoola is more or less a ghost town these days. But the nearby mining community of Roxby Downs, that has 6000 residents, a Woolies, Mitre 10 and a Subway, is not far off that.

"There is a potential for the hottest November temperatures on record anywhere in Australia to be beaten if this system does slightly exceed expectations," said Sky News Weather Meteorologist Rob Sharpe on Tuesday.

Roxby Downs, 550kms north of Adelaide, could near 50C this week. Picture: Google.
Roxby Downs, 550kms north of Adelaide, could near 50C this week. Picture: Google.

Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney are all in the crosshairs of the blistering conditions which are being cranked up by a large high pressure system in the Tasman Sea, dragging that hot air from mainly northern Western Australia south and eastwards.

Broome is seeing regular days in the mid-30s and as that weather drifts through Central Australia it slowly cooks even further.

Dr Goldie said a pulse in the Madden-Julian Oscillation was another factor at play. This is a climate driver in tropical regions that circles the globe every month or so and has a particularly strong influence during spring and summer.

While it can bring rain to Northern Australia, its current position, further from the continent, drags moisture away.

Tarcoola is looking at temperatures near 50C. Picture: Mike Burton
Tarcoola is looking at temperatures near 50C. Picture: Mike Burton

DANGEROUS

Dr Goldie said he doubted the 50C barrier would quite be broken this week. But it was nonetheless an "exceptional" heatwave event with some places experiencing multiple days in the mid-40s.

Even in places cooler than that extreme, there could still be a large impact on health due to the heatwave's arrival early in the season.

"November heatwaves are first out of the gate and that can leave people flat footed as our bodies are not yet adapted to it physically and we can underestimate the effects," he said.

"It can be dangerous and we really encourage people to start thinking about bushfire plans. "In the aged care system - where people are vulnerable to heat stress - but unlike a bushfire, a hot day may not seem remarkable, that's often when people are not checked upon."

Dr Goldie said people needed to ensure they didn't do "silly things" in the upcoming heat like leaving animals or children in cars or not carrying water.

"It's the transition season; that's when people think it's not dangerous and that's when they make mistakes."

Looking at the capitals, Adelaide will see a high of 33C on Wednesday and 40C on Friday and Saturday. Lows will generally be in the mid- to late-teens but early Saturday night could be sleepless scorcher with the gauge not forecast to drop below 23C.

A cool change should come through on Sunday.

The Madden-Julian Oscillation is partly responsible for the approaching heat. Picture: BOM.
The Madden-Julian Oscillation is partly responsible for the approaching heat. Picture: BOM.

Melbourne will have a bit of a seesaw week with Wednesday on a high of 29C, Thursday on 21C and then Friday on 32C. Saturday will be a toasty 34C in the city with lows of 20C. It will be baking in regional Victoria with 45C on Saturday in Swan Hill. The highs dip dramatically on Sunday when it will reach only 22C in Melbourne.

Tasmania is doing its best to keep out of the fray but it will still see some warm patches. Expect 20C highs in Hobart on Thursday and Sunday but on Wednesday and Friday, it'll reach up to 28C.

Canberra will be in the mid-20s until Thursday when the 30C mark will be broken and then it will just keep rising to Sunday when the mercury will top out at 35C. Minimums will be in the low- to mid-teens for the capital.

Most of the week should see Sydney's CBD hovering around the mid-20s but then there will be a jump to 36C on Sunday. The west could be far hotter, with Penrith pushing 42C on Saturday and not far off that again on Sunday.

The temperatures will be less extreme north of the Queensland border with a steady week in the high-20s and low-30s for Brisbane. Sunday is likely to be the hottest day at 32C. Minimums throughout the week should be around 20C.

Stormy in the Top End with thunder a regular feature this week, expect highs of 35C and lows of around 27C in Darwin.

It will be cooler, by comparison, in Perth with 26C on Thursday rising to 29C on Sunday. However, in the north of WA expect coastal towns to remain in the mid-30s all week.

Originally published as 'Dangerous': Town that could hit 50C

Birdsville in Queensland could also get near the big 5-0.
Birdsville in Queensland could also get near the big 5-0.

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