Brett Dutschke, 13 Jan 2013, 6:02 AM UTC
49.6 degrees - Australia's highest temperature in 15 years
Yesterday (Saturday) Moomba in the far northeast of South Australia recorded a maximum temperature of 49.6 degrees, which makes it the highest temperature recorded in Australia in 15 years. The last time a higher temperature was recorded was in February 1998, in the Western Australian Pilbara, where Nyang reached 49.8 degrees. Moomba's 49.6 degrees is also the highest temperature recorded in SA since Oodnadatta reached 50.3 degrees 53 years ago, in January 1960. Australia's record is held by Oodnadatta, 50.7 degrees, also in January 1960. Yesterday a wide area surrounding Moomba was also very hot, reaching the high 40s. In far western Queensland Birdsville got to 48.6 degrees, its hottest day in 22 years. In northwestern New South Wales yesterday Wanaaring reached 48.6 degrees, equalling White Cliffs' 48.6 in 1973 as the hottest it has been in NSW in 106 years. In January 1906 Bourke reached 48.9 degrees. Since this current heatwave began at about New Year, the location which has the hottest week has been Oodnadatta in SA. Oodnadatta averaged a maximum of 46.5 degrees from January 2nd to January 8th. Today (Sunday) the highest temperatures have been in southwest Queensland and northwestern NSW. Birdsville, Thargomindah, Bourke and Walgett all hit 48 degrees. Birdsville was Queensland's hottest place today, peaking at 49.0 degrees. This equalled Birdsville's 49.0 degrees in 1981 as the hottest it has been in the state in 41 years. In December 1981 Birdsville reached 49.5 degrees. In NSW today the hottest place was Walgett where it reached 48.5 degrees, its hottest day in 110 years. A cooler southerly change is taking over, which will make Monday and Tuesday noticeably cooler, about 10 degrees cooler. On Monday Bourke should only reach 35 degrees, Moomba 37. On Tuesday Birdsville should only get to 41. Heat will build again during the week, peaking late in the week or next weekend, but it is unlikely to get as hot as this weekend. Cloud from tropical cyclones and lows off WA will reduce the amount of heating over central and eastern Australia.