Australian heatwave January 2014

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Temperatures may hit 50 degrees on Thursday in north-west WA. Source: BoM
Temperatures may hit 50 degrees on Thursday in north-west WA. Source: BoM
Maximum temperatures across Australia 29 Dec 2013 to 4 Jan 2014
Maximum temperatures across Australia 29 Dec 2013 to 4 Jan 2014

Australia experienced an extreme heatwave during January 2014. In early January, maximum temperatures in excess of 40C were experienced on successive days across Australia.[1][2]


Early January 2014 - Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales

Adelaide is predicted to be the hottest city in the world on Thursday 16 January 2014.[3]

Blistering heat formed over the Nullarbor at the end of December and continues over parts of inland Australia smashed temperature records and was a "highly significant" event according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

In a special climate statement released on Monday 13 January 2014, the bureau said the latest heatwave, while less extensive and prolonged than the record-breaking hot spell to start 2013, was still a remarkable event.

The report comes days after the bureau confirmed that 2013 was Australia’s hottest in more than a century of records, easily beating 2005.

A major feature of the [latest] heatwave was the very large margin by which some records were broken, particularly in northern New South Wales," the bureau said.

At Narrabri (NSW), 47.8 degrees observed on 3 January surpassed the previous record by 3.6 degrees, the largest such margin at any Australian location with 40 or more years of data.

The heatwave began on December 27 in eastern Western Australia and spread slowly north and east, setting records at 34 sites where data has been collected for at least 40 years. Most of those sites were in Queensland and northern NSW.

Parts of north-western Western Australia were hit by another bout of extreme heat with bureau charts indicating regions may reach 50 degrees on Thursday.

In Queensland the statewide mean temperature on January 3 shattering the previous record by "an extraordinary 0.75 degrees", the bureau said.

More than 10 per cent of Queensland and almost 15 per cent of NSW had their hottest day on record.

Gunnedah Research (northern NSW) broke its previous temperature record by 2.8 degrees, the largest margin between the first and second-highest readings in any of the 112 primary locations used by the bureau.

During the heatwave, Roma in southern Queensland broke its record high temperature on three separate days - December 29 and 30, and on January 3.

Mid January 2014 - Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, ACT

Daily maximum temperature for Australia, 14 January 2014 (BOM)
Daily maximum temperature for Australia, 14 January 2014 (BOM)

Melbourne experienced 4 successive days of over 40C during mid January 2014, including 44C on Thursday 16 January 2014.

Power outages were experienced during peak power usage periods during the extreme heat.[4][5]

Power generation was unable to keep up with demand during peak power usage periods and rolling brownouts (also known as "load shedding") were conducted by electricity utility companies.[6]

Power failures also resulted from problems on the Power Company networks, which are struggling to cope with demand from Victorians attempting to cool down. Up to 100,000 Victorian premises could be without power during the heatwave as demand cripples the state's electricity grid.[7]

Numerous power outages were also experienced due to faults. Citipower and Powercor reported 1766 outages across Victoria, including 225 in the Geelong area, 140 in Waubra, north-west of Ballarat, and 114 in St Albans.

A bushfires in Perth burne 46 homes and killed one person in Perth.[8]

Numerous bushfires were started in Victoria by extensive lightning storms during the heatwave. They were were controlled and put out by the Country Fire Authority.[9]

The temperature reached 43.9C in Melbourne at 3:14pm on Thursday 16 January and the forecast maximum for Friday 17 January was revised to 44C.[10]

Soaring temperatures have forced nearly all matches at the Australian Open tennis tournament to be suspended after the tournament referee applied the extreme heat policy at Melbourne Park. Tournament referee Wayne McEwen deemed conditions unsafe for players with temperature of 43.3C on day four of the grand slam.[11]

Professor Neville Nicholls, a leading climate researcher from Monash University, predicted that Victoria's mortality rate was likely to jump by at least 50 per cent as the mercury climbed above 40 degrees for three days running and was forecast to reach 44 degrees on Friday.[12]

Napthine government in Victoria

The Napthine Liberal National Party government's climate strategy in Victoria is to:

  • scrap pollution reduction targets
  • scrap support for installing solar
  • make it impossible to build wind farms
  • ignore their election commitments on energy efficiency
  • encourage new coal mines and coal exports
  • During climate change related heatwaves, turn off power to 10,000 Victorian homes and jeopardise their safety.

Abbott LNP government in Australia

The Abbott Liberal National Party government's climate strategy in Australia is to:

  • scrap the carbon tax
  • provide companies with high emissions funds to reduce their emissions, without mandating any actual emission reductions ("Direct action")
  • encourage new coal mines and coal exports
  • support coal seam gas
  • remove or reduce the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET), not yet confirmed.

External links


  1. 'Highly significant' heatwave smashes Australian records, WA Today
  2. Special Climate Statement 47 - an intense heatwave in central and eastern Australia (PDF)], Bureau of Meteorology, 6 January 2014
  3. UN report says temperatures in Adelaide will make it world's hottest city on Thursday,
  4. Victoria struggles to cope with power demand in heatwave, The Age, 16 January 2014
  5. Melbourne and Victoria to bake through another hot day, The Age, 16 January 2014
  6. Victoria, South Australia face power blackouts, The Age, 16 January 2014
  7. Meltdown as heatwave cripples state's power supply, The Age, 16 January 2014.
  8. One dead, four missing in Perth bushfires], The Age, January 14 2014
  9. Fires rage as Victoria sweats through heatwave, The Age, 16 January 2014
  10. Power blackouts may hit Victoria as mercury climbs — again, The Age, 16 January 2014. Many train and tram service in Melbourne's public transport network were cancelled or delayed. <ref>[ Go home now, Metro says as heat hits services], The Age, 16 January 2014</li> <li id="_note-10">[[#_ref-10|↑]] [ Australian Open tournament referee implements extreme heat policy], The Age, 16 January 2014</li> <li id="_note-11">[[#_ref-11|↑]] [ Heat predicted to kill hundreds], The Age, 16 January 2014</li></ol></ref>
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