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Queensland registers record temperatures as heatwave intensifies in first days of summer

By Ashleigh Stevenson, Wednesday December 2, 2020 - 17:33 EDT
ABC image
Temperatures will be up to 10 degrees above average in some parts of Queensland today. - ABC

Heat records have tumbled today with sweltering conditions intensifying in parts of southern Queensland, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says.

Warwick set a new December record of 40.8 degrees Celsius, while Applethorpe registered 37.5C, passing a previous high for the month of 36.8C that was set in 1972.

A trough system that brought scorching temperatures to south-west Queensland over the last few days now has its sights set on parts of the Maranoa and Warrego and Darling Downs and Granite Belt.

BOM senior forecaster Felim Hanniffy said several locations were set to approach December records in the wake of Queensland's second-warmest November.

The mercury was forecast to hit 46 degrees Celsius in Goondiwindi, 44C in St George, 41C in Dalby and 37C in Toowoomba.

"Inland, you're looking at 8 to 11 degrees above average and even the overnight minimums could be 8 to 10 degrees above average," Mr Hanniffy said.

"Most of the Darling Downs is 10 to 11 degrees above average."

South-east Queensland felt the heat too ? Brisbane recorded a top of 31.9C at 1:38pm, slightly below its forecast high of 34C ? while Gatton reached 39.4C.

Mr Hanniffy said the trough system will edge slightly east on Thursday.

"It's not going very far in a hurry though ? it's just going to stall there but it could bring some localised thunderstorms and some locally heavy falls about the Granite Belt," he said.

"To the west of it, over in the far south west and Maranoa, it'll be a little bit cooler but still well above average for the time of year.

"Temperatures, even on Thursday, will still be in the low 40s."

Goondiwindi Regional Mayor Lawrence Springborg said despite the run of days above 40C locals were coping with the conditions.

"People don't like [the heat] a lot but people in rural areas tend to deal with the heat and the reality of those things in their everyday life," he said.

"Working in temperatures over 40 degrees is something a lot of people do.

"Of course the big issue now is we'd love to see some rain and, hopefully, that's something that's going to happen in the not-too-distant future."

Heat impacts crops

Grantham farmer Derek Schultz said he was not planting a summer crop for the first time in decades.

Instead, he was just growing lucerne because of the hot, dry conditions.

"We're irrigating but it's dry water, that's what it seems like ? the plant is being kept alive, it's not thriving," he said.

"Anybody that can get something through, God bless them ? because it's going to be a tough job."

He said water supplies had dropped dramatically in the past 10 days, worrying many farmers.

"We've been through tough times before but nothing like this ? it's as dry on top of the ground as it is underneath the ground."

Mr Hanniffy said it would not be until the weekend when another system was set to develop in south-west Queensland late on Saturday that temperatures should ease.

"That system looks like the significant system that will flush out all this very warm and muggy weather," he said.

"Later in the weekend, and early next week, it'll bring a change back to cooler conditions across parts of the south as well.

"If you look at, for instance Birdsville and these areas, temperatures [will be] dropping back to the low 30s by about Monday and temperatures could be as much as 15 degrees cooler than what we're seeing at the moment."

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services have imposed a local fire ban until 11:59pm Monday December 7 for residents in the Logan, Scenic Rim, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Somerset and Gold Coast local government areas.

Last month was Queensland's second-warmest November on record.

November 2014 was the hottest.

Maximum temperatures last month were 2.85C above average, the minimum was 2.17C above and the mean temperature 2.51C above.

Birdsville in the state's far south-west had a November-record run of four days above 46C, peaking on 47.1 degrees on Monday.


© ABC 2020

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