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Queensland hot weather record broken in state's scorching west

By Aneeta Bhole and Krystal Gordon, Thursday January 24, 2019 - 08:22 EDT
ABC image
Farmer Luke Chaplain tries to cool off at a water trough on Malakoff Station at Cloncurry. - ABC

A new state record for the most consecutive days over 45 degrees Celsius has been broken in Queensland this week, with sweltering temperatures in Birdsville in the state's far south-west over 10 days.

That beats the state and the town's own record of six days set in 2013.

However, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said it had been three days shy of the national record when temperatures only reached 44.9C on Tuesday.

BOM forecaster Mark Trenorden said the Australian record was 13 days at Marree in South Australia during January 1973.

"But it's not cooling off at all [in western Queensland] — it's 46C there again today and tomorrow … forecast is 47C Friday, 46C Saturday and 45C Sunday," Mr Trenorden said.

Mr Trenorden said Birdsville was low-lying, which brought up the temperature in the region.

"We have a high over the Tasman Sea, a ridge up the east coast of Queensland, so that's just directing warm northerly winds through the interior of the state, so it's been quite hot throughout inland Queensland for quite a while now," he said.

"There is a developing monsoon trough lying over the far northern Cape York Peninsula — quite active up there, with increasing heavy rain, but it's not going to help the south-west at all."

The BOM is keeping a close eye on the monsoon for potential cyclone development in the Gulf of Carpentaria over the next couple of days.

'Bitumen is bubbling and peeling'

Meanwhile, the race continues between Cloncurry and Camooweal, who have been competing for the most consecutive days above 40C in Queensland.

Steven Sarmardin works at a hardware store in Cloncurry and said he could feel the difference with the rising couple of degrees.

"Just walking around — the wind's that hot," he said.

"As soon as you start sweating, you're dry within seconds and the ground, the bitumen, sometimes you drive around, and the bitumen is bubbling and peeling."

Meg Price from Bushy Park Station near Duchess said she had found the heat very intense.

"I think you really notice the difference when it starts to hit the 40s and 45s — it's really more of a heatwave kind of feeling," she said.

'Misconception' middle of the day is hottest

Ringer Luke Chaplain, who works at Malakoff Station just 40 kilometres north of Cloncurry, said with high temperatures predicted to continue, the main priority for graziers was their cattle.

"They reckon at about 32 degrees, cattle can drink up to 70 litres, so when it's about a million degrees, I don't know — you do the maths," he said.

"Different times of the year cattle are deficient so they need nutrients, trace elements and minerals, so at the moment we'd have something for energy.

"Also water quality and access to water as well is important and when it's dry, our ground levels drop a little and surface water evaporates."

Mr Chaplain said it was also important for people to take care of themselves in the heat.

"I think it's a misconception that the middle of the day is the hottest," he said.

"I think it's more towards that four o'clock, five o'clock in the afternoon, because the sun sort of staring at you right in the face and the breeze has died down — really stings you in the butt so you're ready for a cold beer."


© ABC 2019

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