Australia’s heatwave reaches nearly 50 degrees

Power load sharing began with 30,000 households and businesses being switched off for up to two hours

Scorching heat knocked out power to homes and businesses, raised wildfire risks and sent tennis fans looking for water and shade Friday in Australia’s second-largest city, which recorded its hottest day in five years.

Melbourne reached 42 .8 C by early afternoon before a sudden cooldown, though the outskirts of the city remained hot, with the airport recording 46 C (114.8 F). It was the hottest day since 2014 in the Victoria state capital, which has a population of 5 million.

READ MORE: B.C.’s August heat wave – hot enough to bake cookies?

The power grid began load sharing as temperatures climbed in the early afternoon, with 30,000 households and businesses at a time being switched off for as long as two hours so that supply could keep up with demand.

But by late afternoon, the state’s power generation was able to meet demand, Victoria Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.

“The situation changed very, very quickly,” she told reporters. “People should be rightly disappointed that the power grid was not up to the task today.”

Scores of wildfires are raging in heatwave conditions across much of drought-parched southeast Australia, with authorities warning the fire risk is high.

Adelaide, 640 kilometres west of Melbourne, on Thursday recorded the hottest day for a major Australian city, a searing 46.6 C.

The previous record had been the 46.4 C set in Melbourne on Feb. 7, 2009 — a day of catastrophic wildfires that killed 173 people and razed more than 2,000 homes in Victoria that is remembered as Black Saturday.

At the Australian Open in Melbourne, tennis fans shielded themselves with umbrellas and walked by water sprinklers for relief. On Thursday, the tournament had invoked its extreme-heat policy and closed the main stadium’s roof during a women’s semifinal match.

Heat records have tumbled across Australia’s southeast in recent days. The small town of Swan Hill recorded its highest ever maximum of 47.5 C on Friday and the renowned winemaking town of Rutherglen recorded its warmest ever overnight minimum of 29.3 C.

“The heatwaves we have had since the start of summer are almost unprecedented,” meteorologist Kevin Parkin said.

“Relentless days of 40-plus degrees followed by warm nights — is it any wonder people and communities in that part of the world are doing it tough?” he added.

Bureau of Meteorology forecasters say this January is on track to become Australia’s hottest January on record with heatwave conditions likely to persist.

Last year was Australia’s third-warmest on record.

(Canadian Press)

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Orange Shirt Society launches first textbook on residential school history

Phyllis Webstad and Joan Sorley worked on the 156-page book to help educate students

Williams Lake city council to approve whale mural

Through e-mail poll of council mural was accepted, it will be ratified at a regular meeting

Culture Days showcases diversity of talent in Quesnel

The Quesnel Downtown Art Walk kicked off Sept. 26

PHOTOS: Barkerville planning for Halloween events and virtual field trips

This year’s Halloween events will focus on traditional trick or treating, and tickets are limited

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

Orange Shirt Day lessons of past in today’s classrooms

Phyllis Webstad, who attended St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in British Columbia, is credited for creating the movement

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Greens’ Furstenau fires at NDP, Liberals on pandemic recovery, sales tax promise

She also criticized the NDP economic recovery plan, arguing it abandons the tourism industry

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Most Read