Major heatwave affects inland Australia 12/2/2016

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As shown on the daily forecast maximum temperature plots taken from the BSCH for 4 pm Saturday to Monday 13 to the 15 February 2016, a significant heatwave is impacting a vast region of the continent especially the northern regions, desert regions and regions away from the southern coastlines.

The heatwave is vast that Western Australia, Northern Territory, inland Queensland, inland South Australia and inland western and northern New South Wales is worst affected.

Many inland communities are sweltering in maximum temperatures reaching into the low 40Cs for days at a time.

Some of the worst affected areas is by far the Pilbara region of North West Western Australia where the dome of heat is not breaking up. As such forecasts of 44C or hotter are being made at several places including Marble Bar and Telfer. A forecast high of 47C is being made for Marble Bar for both Saturday and Sunday while a forecast high of 46C is being made for Telfer for Saturday. Generally any location within the Pilbara region have temperature forecasts of 45C or hotter for the next few days.

Earlier this week the city of Perth endured a heatwave that saw 4 consecutive days of 40C or higher which ended on Wednesday. Between Sunday and Wednesday 7 to 10 February, a maximum high of 40.4C, 42.5C, 41.2C and 40.3C was recorded. This is considered to be mild when compared to Pearce Air Force Base (NE of Perth) that saw 40.6C, 43.1C, 44.3C and 45.1C recorded during the same period.

This was not a record for Perth but it is rare for the city to endure such degree of heat over four days.

Gascoyne Junction has experience three days in a row of maximum temperatures exceeding 45C with 46.6C recorded on the 11/2/2016. Shark Bay recorded one day of 46C which occurred on the 8/2/2016. Other towns where 45C has been reached some time in the past few days include Cunderdin and Northam (11/2/2016) inland north east of Perth.

Other localities have sweltered in the low 40Cs (Between 40C and 43C).

In the case of South Australia, it is the desert region that is worst affected such as Moomba, Maree and Oodnadatta. Oodnadatta has sweltered through three days of 40C maximum temperatures.

In Western New South Wales, the heat is limited to the western desert regions such as Broken Hill and Fowlers Gap. At Fowlers Gap, it has reached 40C on two consecutive days of Wednesday and Thursday and it has reached 38C or hotter for the past 5 days. The township of Minindee has experienced three days of 40C in a row Tuesday to Thursday and White Cliffs has sweltered through 5 consecutive days of 38C or hotter.

In Queensland, perhaps the town with the highest maximum temperatures recorded for the past week is at Julia Creek where the following has occurred:-

Friday (5/2) 38.3C.
Saturday (6/2) 39C.
Sunday (7/2) 40.8C.
Monday (8/2) 41.5C.
Tuesday (9/2) 39.9C.
Wednesday (10/2) 39.2C.
Thursday (11/2) 39.3C.

This represents 7 consecutive days where 38C or higher has been recorded.

It has even been hot at Birdsville where 41.2C, 41.9C and 42.6C was recorded on 9, 10 and 11 February 2016.

In Northern Territory it appears that a township called Wullungurra has recorded the longest spell of maximum temperatures over 38C. In this regard, the town has sweltered through 5 consecutive days where 39C has been recorded including 4 consecutive days of 40C with 41.9C being recorded on the 11/2/2016.

This generally shows a strong heatwave across the interior of the continent although it is affecting a vast region. It is interesting that other than Perth and its regions, all other capital cities are not experiencing this event. Of course, the worst of the heat is afflicting mostly uninhabited regions or sparsely populated regions of the country.

CREDITS

Bureau of Meteorology (Maximum temperatures) (Various) acquired 12/2/2016.

Tropical Storm Tatiana and Tropical Cyclone Winston 12/2/2016

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Over the past 24 hours two tropical storms have developed well off the Queensland coast with one of these developing into a Tropical Cyclone and the other one expected to transition into a tropical cyclone shortly.

Both storms have been given names as:-

1 - Tatiana (The westernmost storm closest to the Queensland coastline).
2 - Winston (The easternmost storm south east of Vanuatu.

Both named storms are expected to remain over open ocean for the duration of their life spans.

It is unusual to have two named storms so close to one another as seen on the CIMSS forecast models. Tropical Storm Tatiana is the first storm to form in Australian waters off the Queensland coast for the summer season 2015 / 2016.

Tropical storm / Tropical Cyclone Tatiana

The storm is situated approximately 750 km off the Central Queensland coast at latitude 20.28 degrees south and 158.79 degrees east. The forecast model by CIMSS suggests the storm remaining off the coast and not making landfall. While this is presently a tropical storm, it may transition into a weak Category 1 tropical cyclone. Winds close to the core are estimated at 55 knots (Approximately 102 km/h). Winds may increase to 65 knots or 120 km/h over coming hours. Should the storm transition into a tropical cyclone, then its lifespan as a tropical cyclone may be short lived. The storm does not have a developed eye but it is clear that it has an intense core.

Tropical Cyclone Winston

This is the stronger of the two storms and it is currently positioned south east of Vanuatu. The storm features strong convection and a developed eye. The storm may impact some of the outlying islands of Vanuatu such as Erromango and Lenakel but should remain mostly out to sea.

This is a category 1 storm on the Saffir Simpson Scale and may intensify to a Category 2 storm over coming hours. The storm presently sustains wind speeds of 65 knots or 120 km/h near the core. The storm transitioned into a tropical cyclone at latitude 18 degrees south and 171.6 degrees east.

As seen in the NASA Worldview image, the storm is circular in shape but cumulonimbus clouds are visible as a spiral surrounding the northern and eastern quadrant of the storm. The core is ringed by deep convection and cumulonimbus clouds.

The storm formed over waters of 30C to 31C but likely to weaken as it heads further south towards cooler waters.

CREDITS

1 - CIMSS (Forecast plots and infra red images) acquired 12 February 2016.
2 - NASA (MODIS Worldview of TC Winston ) acquired 12 February 2016.

Strong Heatwave grips Western Australia 7 to 13 February 2016

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A significant heatwave is unfolding across much of Western Australia that has authorities alarmed. Heat waves are common across Western Australia during the summer months and indeed there are areas of the state especially the Pilbara that are among the hottest locations on Earth during the summer months of December to February.

This heatwave is significant and as seen in the satellite photo of Western Australia and a close up view of Perth taken 9/2/2016, there is a lack of cloud cover across the state to provide relief. A close up view of the Perth region shows how dry it is in that area and a sizeable burn scar from a recent bush fire is visible south east of Mandurah.

Authorities are on alert for heat related illness and bush fires given how dry it is.

The high pressure cell is at a location where hot dry easterly winds are blowing towards the west sending heat towards the west coast.

While Perth is affected by the heat, the Freemantle Doctor (The known sea breeze along the coast of Perth) does provide relief for coastal suburbs during the afternoons. That sea breeze has provided relief for the coastal suburbs but its impact weakens further inland.

Some very high maximum temperatures reached during the period 7 to 9 February 2016 include:-

Shark Bay reached 45.5C at 1 pm on the 8/2/2016.
Shark Bay has reached 45.5C at 11.45 am 9/2/2016.
Learmonth on the north west coast of the Pilbara reached 44.7C at 3.23 pm 9/2/2016.
Mardie has reached 45.6C at 12.13 pm 9/2/2016.
Northam has reached 44C at 3.30 pm 9/2/2016.

In Perth City, it has reached 40C on three consecutive days of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday with 40.4C, 42.5C and 41.2C being recorded respectively across the period.

Western Australia is a large state and this heatwave is sizeable in area. Hence the 40C maximum temperatures are covering large areas of the state.

Forecast maximum temperatures for the period Wednesday to Saturday at selected locations include:-

Kalgoorlie - (Wed 40C), (Thu 42C), (Fri 42C), (Sat 33C).
Marble Bar - (Wed 47C), (Thu 48C), (Fri 48C), (Sat 47C).
Murchison - (Wed 45C), (Thu 46C), (Fri 46C), (Sat 44C).
Paraburdoo - (Wed 46C), (Thu 46C), (Fri 47C), (Sat 45C).
Paynes Find - (Wed 44C), (Thu 45C), (Fri 44C), (Sat 39C).
Perth City - (Wed 40C), (Thu 38C), (Fri 35C), (Sat 33C).
Telfer - (Wed 45C), (Thu 47C), (Fri 47C), (Sat 47C).

This provides an idea what is occurring. Some relief is expected in Perth but there are regions where the heat will continue for many days.

One interesting feature of this heatwave is that 40C temperatures are being reached relatively early in the day. At Shark Bay 9/2/2016, 41C was recorded at 10.30 am.

The extent of the heat is shown on the attached Bureau of Meteorology temperature plots (ACCESS MODELS) for 2 pm for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The plots show significant build up of heat across the north west and Pilbara region extending southwards. Only the exposed coastline along the Great Australian Bight is spared the worst of the heat.

CREDITS

1 - Bureau of Meteorology (Temperature records) and Water and the Land Temperature Plots.
2 - NASA (MODIS Worldview) - Images of Western Australia and Perth acquired 9/2/2016.

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