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article imageOp-Ed: Roads melt, massive heat hits Australia

By Paul Wallis     Jan 17, 2019 in Environment
Sydney - You know it’s hot when you get officially warned to “limit your time outdoors” in Australia. We’re used to hot weather, but the last few years have been extreme, and this year is truly hot.
The heat goes on, to coin a phrase. The melting roads had to be cooled down for driver safety by the local council. About 50 bushfires are currently burning in New South Wales at the time of writing.
On the inland side of the mountains, temperatures over 40 C, (104F) have been going on for a week. Even the hardy outback people are finding it tough. Temperatures of 48 C (118.4F) have capped off a hot week inland at Broken Hill, in the real “Red Centre” of the country.
Health issues
The heat is potentially deadly. Dehydration is a real risk, and the Australian summer’s bad habit of interspersing high humidity with these dry super-hot days is another hazard. Night temperatures of over 20-22 C (68-71.6F) haven’t helped, with a population of sleep-deprived zombies coming to work in the heat.
Hospital ERs have been warned to prepare for a 14% increase in inpatients. That’s not great for a health system which has been having politically induced trouble getting out of the 1970s in terms of logistics. This time, however, it’s not just the young and old and those with medical conditions being warned. Current general consensus is that healthy people are also at significant risk.
That’s showing up in some strange, unnecessary places. Outdoor workers, in particular, are working exposed in 40C heat. This unholy situation has actually put people’s lives at risk, despite decades of demands for clear work safety rules.
Records crashing
The big heatwave has had temperature records crashing like a spilled box of corn flakes around the country. Even famously hot places are experiencing the highest temperatures ever, at minimum temperature levels. A place called Noona recorded a night time temperature of 35.1C (95.18F), for example.
Historically, coastal regions are the best places for dodging the heat, mainly due to the sea breeze, which is a sort of shutoff for daily heat even in the big cities. However, even Sydney, with many miles of coastal breeze is still getting the tough numbers, with western suburbs going up to 45C (113F) today.
Geo factors
If you look at the map, you’ll notice a big mass of red colour, which is right over the rocky centre of Australia. These hot rocks absorb heat and release it slowly, generating updrafts and basically acting as drivers for the heat waves. This is real desert heat, slightly cooled. It can go up over 50C (122F) out there, and it’s a seasonal curse for delivering the heat to the rest of the country.
There used to be a big inland sea over these areas, which must have cooled the continent. Pity it’s not around now. Come back, inland sea, all is forgiven.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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