It's summer in Australia, but temperatures of almost 50 degrees are not the order of the day. In the past few days, highs of 47 to 49 degrees have been measured on the coast of the state of Western Australia, and the heat is now moving inland. At the same time, a tropical system is approaching from the east and will make landfall on Thursday.
Severe heat in the past few days
A few days ago, a severe heatwave built up in the west of Australia. On January 20, temperatures rose to 47.9 degrees in Paraburdoo. Record-high minimum temperatures were also recorded in various states. These included 28.2 degrees in Yeppoon (Queensland), 33.2 degrees in Newman (Western Australia) and 28.9 degrees in Pirlangimpi (Northern Territory). On January 21, the measuring station at Onslow Airport recorded 48.7 degrees. This location, together with Oodnadatta, is the record holder for the highest temperature in the entire southern hemisphere with 50.7 degrees (January 13, 2022). On January 22, the thermometer showed up to 47.1 degrees in Paraburdoo, various records of highest minimum temperatures were broken. Particularly noteworthy is the 35.2 degrees in Birdsville, a record for the entire state of Western Australia.
Fig. 1: Temperature analysis of January 21 according to UCM; Source: UBIMET
Highs of around 50 degrees were even forecasted for today, January 23. However, the somewhat premature onset of the sea breeze prevented such a rise. Nevertheless, the 46-degree mark was broken again in Onslow, Mardie and Eliwana. In the coming days, the heat will shift to the outback. The border region of the states of Southern Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland will come into focus. According to the maps below, highs of 46 to 49 degrees are expected, in some areas around 10 degrees above the climate norm.
Fig. 2: Highest temperatures on Thursday according to ICON; Source: UBIMET
Future Cyclone Kirrily
In addition, a tropical depression has formed over the Coral Sea in recent days. It is currently still known simply as "Tropical Depression 7". However, as soon as the system has strengthened into a tropical storm, it will be given the name Kirrily. This is likely to happen in the next few hours. According to current forecasts, Kirrily will intensify into a category two cyclone with peak winds of over 150 km/h. It is expected to make landfall between Cardwell and Airlie Beach on Thursday. Not only the strong winds near the coast, but also the large amounts of rainfall in a relatively short period of time could become problematic in some areas. Most weather models are forecasting between 200 and 400 mm of precipitation in the affected areas, locally even a little more.
Fig. 3: Accumulated precipitation over northern Australia according to ECMWF; Source: UBIMET
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