Australians have had to deal with extreme temperatures, as South Australia’s heatwave is now challenging records dating back more than 70 years and Melbourne is facing its longest run of 40 degree days since 1908.
The South Australian town of Keith recorded the highest temperature in the country on Tuesday with 47.2C as Adelaide sweltered through 45C, one degree short of its all time high set on January 12, 1939.
The heatwave which ignited destructive fires in Perth on the weekend has moved across the country and will give Adelaide five consecutive days above 40C, its third longest hot spell.
Wednesday is expected to get to 45C and the record could be broken on Thursday with a forecast of 46C before a cool change to 40C on Friday, plummeting to 20 on the weekend.
In Victoria, Charlton and Longerenong were two towns to reach 46C on Tuesday, while Avalon hit 45.8 and other towns sweated with no power and grassfires burned as the mercury hit 40 in all nine of the Bureau of Meteorology’s forecast districts.
In Melbourne, where Australian Open holds at Melbourne Park from January 13 to 26th January, players and fans have had to endure searing heat. Canada’s Frank Dancevic required medical attention after fainting during his match against Benoit Paire, while a ball boy collapsed and needed medical support during Milos Raonic’s four-set victory over Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
Former women’s world number one Caroline Wozniacki later told reporters the heat melted a plastic water bottle during her straight sets win over Lourdes Dominguez Lino.
Melbourne, which reached 42.8, is now set to endure four days in a row above 40 after the bureau upgraded Wednesday’s forecast to 41.
It’ll be the first time the city has endured such a heatwave since 1908, when there was a five-day streak above 40C, Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Stuart Coombs said.
“It would go down as the second longest run of 40s since records started in 1835 in Melbourne,” he said.
“There will be very little relief during the overnight periods and that’s going to make this a very arduous spell of weather for people to get through.”
Several fires flared across SA and Victoria on Tuesday but the run of heat is expected to produce extreme fire conditions by the end of the week.
Paramedics dealt with 35 cases of heat exhaustion or heat stroke across Victoria by late afternoon.
In normally cool Tasmania, police had reports of melting bitumen as temperatures were about 18 degrees above the average across the state, hitting 40C in Melton Mowbray and Bushy Park, while Strahan reached its second equal highest temperature of 38.