Most summers we get the meteorological situation where we get a considerable high or string of highs in the Tasman sea that push a good easterly gradient onto the Qld coast that then turns south and southwest to warm the southern states and capitals. This becomes a heatwave that dries those those areas out and rapidly sets the scene for bad fires.
It has always been happening and this year wasn’t as bad as some.
It seems somewhat of a disconnect somewhere that there isn’t more prevention. You would think that after three years of good seasons and fuel build-up, this would have been a top priority.
It’s quite sinister how the GetUp Left wait for some extreme weather – which MUST come – and then attribute exceptionalism to the current conditions, either indirectly or by repeated implication. When confronted with the facts of past extremes they simply play deaf and adhere to the program.
Unlees you guys can go to msm and make your statements on their show where the general public hear you at this dangerous time for property owners and firefighters, in fact any body; I will continue to call you completly out of touch
btw, its not me saying unprecedented or extraordinary, it’s our country’s professional advisers, national and state by state. So far no lives lost and that’s going on to be unprecedented if they get us through this heatwave as it goes on
If any of our country’s professional advisers are saying “unprecedented”, tell them they are outrageous frauds – and be glad it is not you who is peddling such an obvious and easily exposed lie. And don’t give these climate hucksters oxygen by quoting them, especially the arch-polluter Garnaut.
By the way, I’m writing from the middle of the Australian scrub. After five champion years of growth, it’s a huge piece of luck that the conditions are not nearly as bad as 19 years ago.
Yes Robert, when they claim that the highest recorded temperature in Birdsville is 49.5c and their records only go back to the 1950s for temperatures but to the 1890s for rainfall you know they are fiddling the books. I have experienced higher temperatures than that at a station called Planet Downs near Birdsville in 1957.
We know their excuse is that thermometers were not always housed in official Stevenson screens so they don’t count but they were housed in houses where women and children lived and the odds were that those houses were cooler than SSs. And SSs were used from around the 1890s in many places anyway.
The Australian has a sensible, reasonable article on the heatwave.
It’s behind a paywall so here it is:
AS the winds turned to the northwest yesterday, the nation’s heavily populated eastern seaboard finally got a taste of the sweltering conditions that started in Western Australia at Christmas and have roasted the red centre for a record-breaking spell.
City newspapers warned of “Armageddon” as the bushfire danger in NSW reached catastrophic levels, heightened by a build-up of fuel from two cool years of heavy rain.
A weather-obsessed nation has become used to the vagaries of drought that come with El Nino and the flood-inducing La Nina, both of which are determined by sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.
This is supposed to be a neutral, in-between year: the El Nino system that was brewing faltered at the last moment. But you wouldn’t know it from the weather.
The great heatwave of 2013 has been remarkable for its geographic spread, if not maximum temperatures.
National records have fallen for consecutive days of stifling heat.
On Monday, a new national daily average maximum temperature record was set at 40.33C. The previous record of 40.17C dated back to December 21, 1972.
But, surprising as it seems, the maximum temperatures at individual locations have not been particularly out of season.
This may well just be a truly Australian summer. But it does pose an age-old question: what is normal when it comes to weather?
Karl Braganza, the manager of climate monitoring at the Bureau of Meteorology’s National Climate Centre, says this has been the sort of weather system that typically is associated with heatwaves in the middle of summer, especially across southern Australia. But the heat has been exacerbated by the monsoonal trough that usually brings cloud and rain in the north of the continent remaining far offshore in the Timor Sea.
A stationary high-pressure system over Australia has allowed heat to circulate over the inland, and with no respite from monsoonal cloud or rain, temperatures are building upon themselves.
Despite this, Braganza says the current event “is not notable for the size of individual temperature anomalies. It is notable for its size, as almost the whole continent is warm,” he points out.
“It is more typical for parts of the continent to be significantly cooler when we have a large heatwave.”
But is it climate change at work?
“We have broken the record daily average temperature over the whole of Australia set at 40.17C in December 1972,” Braganza says.
“We have gone six consecutive days with the average (national) temperature over 39C and that has never happened before, and we expect that will go seven days all up (including yesterday).
“There are aspects of the heatwave that are at the very edges of what we have experienced in the past, but in terms of individual sites I don’t think this is the sort of event like Black Saturday,” he says.
“We can’t really pull apart all the influences of the climate system to say what caused this particular event.
“With this sort of event you have background climate trends and natural climate variability pushing in the same direction.
“It is the frequency of these events we are watching.”
For climate-change watchers it is more the frequency of events than the severity of this particular event that matters. The prospect of more frequent heatwaves has become a core concern.
Australia’s Climate Commission has said Australia can expect to experience an increase in summer heatwaves that pose a danger to agriculture, health and even life.
A commission paper on the health impacts of climate change says there has been an increase in hot days and nights and a decrease in cold days and nights across Australia.
In the past five decades, it says, the number of record hot days has more than doubled.
“Recent heatwaves had caused increased hospital admissions for kidney disease, acute renal failure and heart attacks.”
During the severe heatwaves in southeastern Australia in 2009, when Melbourne sweltered through three consecutive days with temperatures higher than 43C in late January, ahead of Black Saturday on February 7, there was a more than 30 per cent increase in the number of deaths.
Despite the Climate Commission’s warnings it will not be possible for several decades to say with certainty that there is a climate change signal in recent heatwaves, including this year’s hot spell.
In a report on extreme weather last year, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change outlined the difficulty in establishing whether climate change is driving more intense weather.
It says many weather and climate extremes are the result of natural climate variability. “Even if there were no anthropogenic changes in climate, a wide variety of natural weather and climate extremes would still occur.”
The IPCC says it has “medium confidence in an observed increase in the length or number of warm spells or heatwaves in many regions of the globe”.
It also has medium confidence in the projected increase in duration and intensity of droughts in some regions of the world, including southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, central Europe, central North America and Mexico, northeast Brazil and southern Africa.
However, for future projections it says it is “virtually certain” that increases in the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes and decreases in cold extremes will occur through the 21st century on a global scale.
It is “very likely” that the length, frequency and-or intensity of warm spells or heatwaves will increase over most land areas.
But, it says, there are three main sources of uncertainty in future projections: “The natural variability of climate, uncertainties in climate model parameters and structure; and projections of future emissions.”
In a counter-intuitive development, Britain’s Met Office this week revised downwards its projections for future global average temperature increases until 2017, based on the use of new computer models.
It now believes that global temperatures up to 2017 will most likely be 0.43C above the 1971-2000 average, with an error of plus or minus 0.15C.
British reports claim the revision means the forecast is for no increase in global temperatures above current levels over the forecast period.
The Met Office had previously estimated the most likely global temperature increase to be 0.54C above the 1971-2000 average during the period 2012 to 2016.
It is all pretty academic for Oodnadatta, in the South Australian outback 1011km north of Adelaide, which has just set a record with seven consecutive days of temperatures above 45C.
A five-day sequence has been recorded three times previously, all this century: in January 2004, February 2004 and January 2011.
However, for meteorologists there is nothing particularly mysterious about the cause behind the extended hot spell.
“Heatwaves over the interior are a common part of summer in Australia and this one is not likely to set individual (daily) state or national records,” Braganza says.
“It has hit some site records, but we are really looking at the duration of the heat in many locations in terms of how unusual this has been compared with previous years.
“It is a function of how stationary the weather patterns are over Australia at the present time.”
This blocking of the monsoonal trough is the key to understanding what has been going on.
A high-pressure system has sat over the Tasman Sea that has allowed heat continually to circulate over the continent.
“That is almost always when you get a heatwave in Australia,” Braganza says.
“The last two years we didn’t see much of it because we had a different seasonal climate influence.
“You can say that for years where you didn’t get a very hot summer in Australia, you probably had less of the weather systems becoming stationary over the continent.
Bureau of Meteorology assistant director of weather services Alasdair Hainsworth says the current weather system has meant the continent has been mostly cloud-free for several months “and it has just got hotter and hotter”.
“The monsoon trough has not developed over northern Australia at all,” he says. “It is still lying to the north of the continent.”
The monsoon trough follows the summer sun as it tracks southwards, but this year it has failed to do so.
The northern monsoon is critical to bringing relief to the central areas and southern capitals.
“Normally we would see the development of the monsoons, which would pump moisture into central Australia to develop cloud and rain,” Hainsworth says.
“We have seen none of that this year, so we have had no rain over central Australia.”
As a result, and in combination with the high-pressure system sitting over the Tasman, the soils are now completely dry, heat is radiating day after day into clear skies and the centre of the continent has built up a record run of high temperatures.
Hainsworth’s forecast is for more of the same.
“Until we see some moisture setting in there and some cloud and some rain, the pool of hot air over the central part of the continent is going to persist,” he says.
The weather patterns that allow heat to build up in the centre of the continent usually bring cooler conditions on the eastern seaboard.
The coastal region got a taste of the hot conditions yesterday as northwesterly winds brought the hot air over the Great Dividing Range.
But the 40C-plus temperatures on the coast are not expected to last long.
“Getting those really hot days – into the 40 degrees Celsius – is less common over the east coast than it is in the southern capitals, where the air is dragged down from the north over the southern states,” Braganza says.
The big question is: when will the monsoon season finally break in the tropics to bring relief to the centre?
A low has been forming in the monsoon trough that has the potential to become a tropical cyclone.
“What we are hoping is as that comes south it is going to drag the monsoon trough down with it,” Hainsworth says.
“And then we will finally get some decent activity to pump this moisture in and provide us with some relief over northern Australia.
The flip side is a tropical cyclone will come close to the coast.
“It is a double whammy,” says Hainsworth.
“We might well get some relief in terms of heat but we are likely to see the cyclone impacting on coastal communities.”
From flood to drought to fire and on to cyclonic winds.
This may be the very definition of a truly Australian summer.
Others; dangerous, devastating, fierce, major health risk, very–, too hot, more worring, major concern, not to travel, evacuation, EXTREME conditions, 42 degrees, absolutely unbelievable, up t0 100km/h, spotting, relocate, all before BoM and those broken records.
sd, those records, 60 years of them in my region, gave the lie to people like David Jones and Ben Cubby. That’s why they had to go.
The beating up of our current heatwave is also keeping our minds of the fierce cold in the NH, with enormous snowfalls from N. America to Asia. Sadly, the hucksters are now so heavily invested in CAGW that advance is their best retreat.
By the way, I’m amazed that this is my area’s first big heatwave since 2004, and, so far, it’s not nearly as severe. Nine years without a major heatwave! With last summer being the coolest in my memory, I’d say we’re in a mid 20th century pattern. PDO?
I’m not sure we’re off the hook, however, with February to come. It’s important to remember that those wet seventies had a lot of bad bushfire emergencies, as well as some shocking heat. No doubt McTernan/Gillard could come up with a fabulously expensive national fire plan…and proceed to do nothing. But I’d love to hear from a PM who is an active fire brigade member. Fingers crossed.
Now the truth is starting to come out WRT the Tas fires. A story on early AM says that they haven’t been doing their homework as I suggested upthread and to which gav replied: “Pure nonsense SD,”.
After the recent good seasons with terrific regrowth, I have been sweating fire that this is the next scenario and had told my fire warden I was going to burn the mountain to get him fired up. We didn’t get it burnt in 2011 but last winter we got a fairly respectable burn which gave us reasonable protection. I had to prepare all the local firetrails and clear them but it was worth it.
It should be done very regularly and if you get slack, you’re dead.
Catastrophic bushfires make me uneasy. They have always made everyone uneasy. When I’m in the middle of one, I’m more than uneasy.
Of course, there’s a subliminal message being delivered, GetUp style. When they can’t say “unprecedented”, they just keep on implying it a dozen different ways, hoping it will sink in.
Australia’s most lethal natural disaster, the Victorian heatwave of 1938-1939, killed 438 people. On top of that, there were the Black Friday bushfires of January 13, 1939, which destroyed nearly 5 million acres, and affected three quarters of the state. Almost as lethal was the Big Heat of 1895-1896. which killed 437, and 47 in Bourke alone. Cyclone Mahina in 1899 is estimated to have killed 401 people. Our next most lethal natural disaster was another heatwave – 246 perished in 1906-1907. After that comes a list of cyclones and heatwaves, all occurring long ago, with the exception of the Black Saturday fires of 2009, which killed 173 people. We live in a dangerous place called Australia. Black Thursday in 1851 and the horror El Nino of the early 1790s should have convinced us all of that.
Pass on these facts to somebody’s ABC. Since they are in the business of informing, they should at first be informed.
You can’t get your message across no matter how hard you try.
All this disaster is exacerbated by the reluctance of the greenies to allow fire reduction burning.
And when brushfires happen they wash their hands and blame it on CC.
Gavin is a mild one compared to the real militants, although he is exposing more and more of his true politics.
Johnathan, alarmists end up needing disasters. Hazard reduction for a continent would be complex and expensive, but when you consider it’s a win for the anti-carbon bedwetters and a win for everybody else, it has to be worth it. The problem is, our Green Betters are notoriously indifferent or even hostile to hazard reduction.
These people of the GetUp Green Left have strange agendas. Every lump of coal burnt is Oz is supposed to be a koala killer – but when four times that quantity of Australian coal is burnt offshore, it’s called a national resource, and seen as a money trough. “Energy efficiency” is Newspeak for domestic waste and high domestic energy costs. Their social model must be 1980s Rumania.
I like coming to Jen’s site because I can rub shoulders with conservation minded people who love the bush and what’s in and around the bush. Our Green Betters are many things, but they are certainly not conservationists.
Hazard reduction for a continent would be complex and expensive
It is, and if I had any say in it nobody would live in a danger area, just go visit and enjoy.
But this is not in the nature of humans. I keep saying earthquakes are not dangerous if nobody lives where they happen.
I love the bush and what’s in and around the bush. Our Green Betters are many things, but they are certainly not conservationists.
You got that right!
A disaster is a politicians and political activist’s dream. Scare the populace and promise salvation, an age old trick and sadly it still works every time.
Rob; I sugest you won’t see many photos of a “fireball”. We now have two photos from the new year Tasmanian bushfire that give substance to the term “catastrophic” if not “unprecedented” as used to describe conditions in certain areas this month.
JW; as a technician who monitors combustion with instruments and eye, there are factors that change the fuel available in recent bushfires other than climate change. In Tasmania’s case it can be blackberry infestations in all areas close to settlements, In old sheep country like Canberra, its more wild oats than pines now.
My point is about fine fuels in summer crops that feed bushfires like never before once atmospheric combustion is established. Fireballs and tornadoes form in and around the furnace when fierce winds flatten the normal atmospheric structure produced by a large bushfire.
The ember shower is just one aspect as the event changes into to a giant firey dust storm. Back burning in these conditions is not an option given fronts can move close to wind speed.
I saw a safety film on fire fighting strike force survival, produced in the US late 1950′s then shown to our foresters and mill workers, They had prepared a series of ridge top forest clearings in anticipation of airborne teams dropping in during emergencies The idea was to extend each clearing by felling and back burning in the face of wild fire. As the main front approached these poor guys were recorded by fixed cameras as they dug under and covered with space blankets.
Winding on these cameras filmed all but one reviving. Bewildered they were. Nobody had guessed the temperatures or intensity of suffocation from noxous gases and O2 depletion. The mesage was more about prevention than sacrifice.
Interesting comments on photography, gav. There have been lots of fireballs through history, but not many vivid digital photos of them. What were the photographers and airborne news teams thinking back in 1851?
Gav, everybody knows that there is a major fire emergency in SE Australia at present. We all know how to find the ABC on our radios and TVs. Nobody thinks it is a good idea to back-burn in the wrong conditions. Of course a major firefront is far more terrible and powerful than one can imagine: that’s why all those people perished in 1939 and 2009. That’s how a million sheep perished on Black Thursday in 1851.
Me, I watched an old Bogart movie tonight. I’m not interested in looking at fireballs on TV while I’m living in the middle of tinder-dry scrub in the present national emergency. Fortunately, neither the temps nor wind direction have been too bad here, and I’ve done lots of prep. But if you think summer crops are combustible, wait till you see native blady grass near forest fringes go up in flames. It’s napalm.
The present emergency is indeed catastrophic, but you keep trying to endow it with some kind of exceptionalism to make it fit the CAGW script. That’s what I object to, and that’s why I’m contemptuous of GetUp and climate hucksters who climb on every natural disaster to use it as a bandwagon.
I’ll repeat. Yes, it’s catastrophic. No, it’s not at all unprecedented. Got it? Or should I repeat? That’s a yes to “catastrophic” and a no to “unprecedented”. If you come back again with a new CAGW script variation, I won’t mind repeating what I just said. I won’t mind a bit.
Rob; you may not be aware but you falsly accuse me of subscribing to above script since I rarely use that C— concept in discussion nor do I cite that US Citizen’s group.
Roaming for the source for such rhetoric, I came across the Nova post on the US geophys soc post McIntyre feud. Now I am a big fan of Wiley Int pubs and you can quote me on this. See the latest climate science here.
Well said Robert and SD.
Amusingly, my area, Griffith/Leeton was daclared a ‘disaster zone’ yesterday.
Our properties are situated between those 2 towns.
There were 2 worrying fires. Neither were actually inside that zone. Both were eventually controlled without any serious damage.
The only fires here yesterday were from some of our neighbours who were burning stubble with a fire permit.
I think SD’s term “bed wetting” applies rather well on this example.
A little less bed wetting and a large dose of sensible risk management guided by people with practical experience in bush fire management might be a much better idea.
And Gavin, please explain what you think people here are ‘denying’.
As I mentioned earlier. . . . if you are unable to explain what people are DENYING(bold) then you are just calling people silly meaningless names.
I find that a bit disappointing Gavin.
You usually write with a bit more class than that.
The globe warms every day. The climate never stops changing. Global Warming and Climate Change are therefore undeniable. Suggesting people “believe” or “deny” these things is akin to suggesting that people believe or deny motherhood or oxygen. What are we to think, therefore, of those who refuse to give clear definitions to their extravagant claims, but continue to cloak them in vague and benign verbiage? Alarmists hate the label CAGW because it is an accurate and frank description of what they preach. But accuracy and frankness aren’t their thing.
Climate alarmism relies on computational and verbal stunts, well worthy of GetUp and the new political class of spinners, touts, shills and hucksters. There are profits in being a member of this new political class, profits for the likes of Gore, Flannery, McTernan and the arch-polluter, Garnaut.
I feel sorry for their foot-soldiers who work for free.
“A; No, never been “Active” beyond emergency assistance from community callups or SES teams. Was quite busy after events with infrastructure upgrades. Why do you ask?”
Well it’s like this, gav: it’s lovely of you to help out in emergencies following the fire but the human brain is capable of preventing those emergency situations from happening in the first place by paying attention to what causes the problem. That’s what RFBs do if they are doing their job properly. Also, people like farmers with machinery, who know what’s going on around them, often are there long before the RFB, solving the potential problem and doing it at their own expense.
It’s farmers like Debbie that have contributed so much in the past to prevention when there was often nothing else to fill the breach. A lot of that seems to be lost today, particularly in the new, at risk, outer suburbs where many people enjoy life today, including me.
I’m impressed that gav worked to upgrade infrastructure after fires, just as I’m impressed that Abbott gives his spare time to guard our beaches and bush, as well as sacrificing precious holidays to help out in aboriginal communities. More power to such people.
But nothing safeguards like profitable bush industries. Let’s stop preaching about that unspeakable hag, Gaia, and start trusting to our own stewardship. Give the environment back to old Gaia and, once the urban luvvies lose interest, you’ll get a lot of under-funded, fire-prone regrowth infested with ferals and weeds.
And yes it is those in outer suburbia who are at most risk.
They clearly don’t understand what is meant by ‘risk management’.
They want the beauty but without the terror but just don’t seem to get that it is up to them to properly manage the terror.
Us hokey farmers see incredibly stupid stuff like thick stands of gums towering over peoples’ rooftops and clogging up their driveways and therefore their escape routes.
We see centralised rules that lock up national parks and leave them prone to large fuel loads and impassable logs over fire trails.
These national parks often border straight on to suburbia.
We see river country management that allows river red gums to grow like noxious weeds.
I could go on forever about this one but I’m sure you get the drift.
That criticism obviously excludes you SD!!!!
Gavin seems to partly understand that but is still missing the basic problem with bush fire risk to life and property.
Certain weather conditions that we had earlier this week are certainly a factor, but we can’t manage the weather!
We need to manage the risk from fuel loads.
“Tomorrow morning, Sat 12th Jan at ~ 9.45 am there is another king tide, possibly the highest tide of 2013.
If any of you Deltoids would care to meet me at the Cleveland Lighthouse, Cleveland, Qld., you can observe for yourselves whether SLR is occurring. The Sea should be reasonably free of external influences and if the tide exceeds what the same tide did on a regular basis [ie cover the lawn there to a depth of about an inch] ~ 70 years ago, we can say that SLR is happening. If it is the same or lower than it was then we can say SLR has been postponed.
NB this benchmark is not in a river estuary it is in a wide open bay with about a 50 nm fetch to the shipping channel.
I’ll go down anyway. What’s the bet no one fronts?
“I’ll go down anyway. What’s the bet no one fronts?”
SD, sure you are right.
Why would they confuse the nice cosy, fuzzy feeling inside with nasty facts?
Even if they lived nearby, and I’d say some must do, there is enough of them to go around and pollute the land,
they still wouldn’t go or if they did they wouldn’t believe their own lying eyes.