Extreme Heat Marble Bar Pilbara – October 2015 to January 2016



The town of Marble Bar in the Pilbara region of north west Western Australia is described as having an arid climate with very hot summers and warm winters. Between 31 October 1923 and 7 April 1924, the town set a world record for a heatwave in which there were 161 days where maximum temperatures did not fall below 37.8C.

The temperature was measured under standard exposure conditions. It appears that was a drought year because there is evidence that rainfall was very low at the time.

The town is far enough inland from the coast that the only mechanisms to prevent such temperatures involve a southward incursion of humid air associated with the monsoon.

The highest ever maximum temperature recorded here was 49.2C on 11 January 1905 and again on 3 January 1922.

During December and January, maximum daily temperatures in excess of 45 degrees are common and the average daily maximum January temperature is apparently 40.9C (105.8F). Currently, average daily temperatures for the town for January 2016 are slightly above the long term average being 42.2C or 1.3C warmer than normal.

It is only a very small town with a population of just under 200 residents.

The town is located at 21.10 degrees south and 119.45 degrees west in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

During the period 1 October 2015 to January 22 2016, an impressive heatwave has just concluded. While not records, they are nothing short of impressive as follows.

The maximum daily temperature reached 40C on 28 of 31 days during October and on those days where it did not reach 40C, it reached 38C or higher. Thus in this regard, the maximum temperature reached 38C (100F) on 31 of 31 days during the month.

For an unknown reason, there are no weather recordings for the period 1 to the 8 November 2015 thus data is not available. It is possible the weather station malfunctioned. It is known that the weather station was operational on the 9 November and the temperature reached 38C or higher for the rest of the month. It reached 40C on 19 days after the 9/11/2015 including 15 consecutive days between the 10/11/15 and the 24/11/2015. This includes a 46.1C on the 14/11/15 and again on the 23/11/2015.

An incredible run of 40C temperatures commenced on the 27/11/2015. The maximum temperature reached 40C or hotter on every single day throughout December 2015. Thus the last 35 days of 2015 saw maximum temperatures reach 40C or higher. This includes a period of 3 days where 45C or hotter was recorded peaking at 46.5C on the 18/12/2015.

The maximum average December daily temperature was 43.9C which was above the normal average of 41.7C.

That level of heatwave continued into 2016 and was finally broken on the 14/1/2016 where the maximum daily temperature failed to reach 40C (It reached 39.5C). This includes 4 consecutive days of 45C or higher peaking at 47.4C on the 5/1/2016 and 46.8C on the 4/1/2016.

That makes 48 consecutive days where the maximum temperature reached 40C or higher. This makes it an incredible 68 days in a row (Known days notwithstanding the loss of data early November) where the maximum temperature averaged 38C or higher.

It is difficult to determine the worlds longest run of 40C days but it is known that Death Valley in California has had 43 consecutive days of 120F or 48C during 1917 (July 6 to August 17).

The Pilbara region is in the north west of the state and such high maximum temperatures are common. The maximum average temperature plot for December has been generated from the Bureau of Meteorology 'Water and the Land”. The highest average maximum daily temperatures for the month occurred across the Pilbara where at least 42C to 45C was recorded (Consistent with what has occurred at Marble Bar).

In addition, the highest daily maximum temperature plot for December has also been generated. It shows the highest temperatures for the month being recorded across the Pilbara where 45C or greater was recorded at some point during the month. That same plot also shows some 45C days being recorded elsewhere.

Generally, it has been hot for Marble Bar. Following a few cooler days where 37C has been recorded over recent days, the heat has now returned where 44C is being forecast there for today 23/1/2016.


Christopher C Burt (Extreme Weather) 2007 pp18.
Bureau of Meteorology (Marble Bar Observations Station Number 004106) 2015 / 2016.
Bureau of Meteorology (Water and the Land) “Temperature” December 2015.
Weatherzone (Temperature data for Marble Bar) October 2015 to January 2016.