Sunday, January 01, 2006

2006 starts with record temperature high

It's 10:40am on the first day for 2006, and it feels like it is going to be a hot one. The hottest one since records started being kept at Observatory Hill in 1858 according to the Bureau of Meteorology who yesterday predicted Sydney would reach a maximum temperature of 41 degrees.

I am five minutes walk from Bondi Beach and one minute from Sydney Harbour so temperatures here will be moderated (if that term still applies) by the ocean and harbour, but inland, in Liverpool, Penrith and Richmond, the mercury is expected to rise to 43 degrees celsius.

"It will be extreme," Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Bob Moore predicted.

"Looking back at the records, there haven't been that many days over 30 degrees [on New Year's Day], only five or six in all the years recorded, so it does stand out a bit."

The hottest New Year's Day ever recorded was in 1928 when the maximum temperature soared to 38.1 degrees while the second hottest day was in 1977, when 36.9 degrees was reached.

I am made doubly conscious of the heat writing a blog called Global Warming Watch, so as a citizen environmentalist I ask whether today is a harbinger of global warming? Maybe that of a warmed up globe, but there is no evidence that today's expected record will be a result of anthropomorphic warming. Not unless GW is causing the winds to fail:

Records were expected to be smashed because the cool sea breezes that usually keep temperatures down in Sydney would disappear today, Mr Moore said.

Inland winds from the north and the west would gust up to 20 knots. Relief was not expected until midnight tonight when a classic southerly buster with winds of up to 30 knots would chase back the heat.

Going outside for 30 seconds you can feel the sun's rays going straight through your body, like you would imagine an x-ray does. There is no alternative but surrender to the heat. Memories of long summers at Airlie Beach, Queensland when the only job that made sense was that of the windsurfing instructor.

Humidity is going to increase the risk of severe bushfires and I quickly take my sunhat off to our 4000 volunteer firefighters who are prepositioned around the state.
Increasing the fire risk was an expected halving in the humidity from just under 70 per cent yesterday to a mere 35 per cent today.
Between Rural Fire Service and the Australian Surf Lifesaving Association is due a lot of gratitude over the summer months. Iconic symbols of community mindedness volunteering their all in some cases, so the rest of us can continue to enjoy our iconic lifestyles. I have no doubt these types of volunteer organisations will become of vital importance down the track as climate change starts to take hold.

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