Weather News

Record-breaking heatwave hits hard in the Top End

By Cameron Gooley, Thursday December 12, 2019 - 18:49 EDT
ABC licensed image
Australia's north is experiencing record-breaking temperatures ahead of the holiday season. - ABC licensed

The remote Kakadu town of Jabiru broke its December heat record four days in a row, as a heatwave continues to roll across the Top End.



It is just one of several places breaking records in the Northern Territory as a wider heatwave grips most of Australia.

Jabiru recorded its highest-ever December temperature on the 4th at 39.7 degrees.

But that record did not last long, with it being broken again every day until the 7th — the current high sits at 41.6 degrees.

"Over the last couple of months, the NT has experience some pretty extraordinary heatwave conditions," said Nicholas Loveday, senior meteorologist at the the Weather Bureau.

"Darwin has now had 34 days where it has recorded 35 days or above, which is really significant, that's actually the record."

Meanwhile, Tindal also sweltered through 40 days at or above 40 degrees this year — doubling the previous record from 2013.

Today was also the 10th consecutive day of temperatures above 35 in Darwin, another record.

Monsoon season still several weeks away



Part-time gardener Josh O'Brien said he is coping with the heat, but he is making sure to drink plenty of water.

"I kind of enjoy being outdoors. I'm cooped up at uni studying all winter at Melbourne, so it's nice to get back into some heat," he said.

But he was not happy to hear the monsoon has been delayed until January.

"I was hoping to get a few good storms, it would have been nice to watch them roll in from this beautiful location but it's not meant to be," said Mr O'Brien.

Unfortunately for most people in the Top End, it does not appear the heat will let up any time soon.

"For places like Darwin, we're still expecting temperatures to be quite hot, with top temperatures above 35 degrees every day for the rest of this week," said Mr Loveday.

And according to BOM those conditions will not be restricted to the NT, with an "exceptional heat event" increasingly likely to occur across the country next week.

A hot city getting hotter

A heat symposium attended by experts from across the country began in Darwin on Thursday morning, with a focus on heat-proofing the city's urban environment.

It is the first of a planned annual gathering with discussions on how to increase liveability in a city that is only predicted to get hotter.

"When you invest in heat mitigation and cooling and greening your city, you also improve health outcomes, you improve people's wellbeing and you make the city a more attractive place," said the CSIRO's Darwin Living Lab coordinator, Nerida Horner.

For many of the experts who attended, reining in excessive heat is a priority issue for the future of Darwin.

"We expect by 2050 the peak temperature in the city may increase up to 3–4 degrees and this would double, or let's say triple, the energy consumption in the city and would increase heat-related mortality," said Professor Mat Santamouris from the University of New South Wales.


- ABC

© ABC 2019

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