Ben Domensino, 03 Feb 2017, 12:12 AM UTC
Unprecedented heat in Australian outback
February is about to put eastern Australia's record-breaking hot January to shame. A historic spell of hot days and nights will grip parts of central Australia, southern Queensland and northern New South Wales during the first half of February. The southwest Queensland town of Birdsville is forecast to reach 45-48 degrees from now until Thursday and could extend this run to 10 days by next weekend. This spell would smash the existing record of six consecutive days over 45 degrees from 2014 and 2004. Overnight minimums during this time should remain above 30 degrees, beating the 2012 record of six in a row. Birdsville's hottest day on record was 49.5 degrees on 24th January 1972. Thargomindah's run of days above 44 degrees could reach 10 by Friday next week, including a few days at 46 degrees. The previous record run of days above 44 in the last 138 years was seven, in 2004. Walgett in northern New South Wales will be a few degrees 'cooler' than its northern neighbours, reaching 41-45 degrees for the next week. This would take their run of days over 40 degrees to 12 by Thursday and it should to reach 15 next weekend. The current record of 18 days from 1884 could certainly be challenged this month. Bourke has exceeded 40 degrees for the last six days in a row and will extend this tally to 16 by next weekend. There is a good chance the 121 year old record of 22 days above 40 degrees will be beaten by the middle of this month. South Australia's Moomba is forecast to reach 46 degrees for six days straight, from this Saturday to Thursday next week. This will be an unprecedented run of hot days for the town, which has data available back to 1972. The exceptionally hot start to 2017 in parts of New South Wales and Queensland is being caused by abnormally high pressure to the east of Australia. This setup is causing less cloud and more frequent northerly winds over Australia eastern inland, which is producing a stagnant pool of very hot air.
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