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Australian Heatwave? Not So Unusual After All

February 26, 2013

By Paul Homewood




It is only a few weeks since we were being told how the heatwave in Australia was unprecedented, and proof of global warming. Now the GISS systems are up and running again, we can check just how hot it really was last month down under.



The graphs below plot January mean temperatures for seven sites, which give a comprehensive coverage of the whole country, one for each state, plus Alice Springs in the middle. I have opted, where possible, for rural sites close to the main cities, with long term records,  though there are no such ones close to Perth or Darwin. There are some gaps in the data.












In none of the examples is the January temperature a record, or even close to being so, and in most cases higher temperatures were recorded 50 years or more ago.

But don’t take my word for it. NSW was probably the worst affected state, yet, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), it was only the 5th warmest January since 1910, and all the others occurred prior to 1940. In other words, a once in 20 years event.






And what about Tasmania, where there was so much concern about wildfires? Mean temperature for the month was a scorching 15.0C. Apparently it was so average, the BOM did not even bother giving it a ranking!




Meanwhile, despite the record temperature set on the 4th of the month, the average maximum temperature at Hobart was 23.9C. a figure beaten on seven previous occasions, as far back as 1887.




hobart (ellerslie road) (094029) january  graph


The BOM explain the causes of the heatwave in Tasmania, which lasted just two days, very well.


“The high combined with an approaching cold front on the 3rd and 4th to direct a very hot air flow over Tasmania”.

In other words, weather. But don’t expect the Railway Engineer to tell you this.




I have reproduced the BOM graph below for NSW, which contradicts the statement made by BOM above. According to the graph, the highest January temperature on record was in 1939. Last month was still the 5th highest on record, but all have occurred since 1939. The BOM are therefore incorrect in saying

warmest January mean temperature since 1939”.



  1. February 27, 2013 2:36 am

    I finished compiling all my sea-level and meteorological data for SEAFRAME sites monitored by BOM’s NTC yesterday, which includes 12 Oz sites and 12 Pacific sites. Even looking at it with a warmist’s eye (they only have one) there ain’t no global warming in Oz. Only 2 sites show consistent warming since 1991/2 (when stations installed). Several show warming since 1991/2. but cooling since (and including) 1998. Several show cooling since installation, with a slight rise & fall over the late 90s/early 2000s.

    January 2013 doesn’t stand out as any warmer than recent years at any site. Hillarys is on the southern outskirts of Perth, and given that the installation is on a jetty, unlikely to be subject to UHI. This Jan at 23.4 was cooler than the previous four, if that’s any help.

    Seems like global warming is measured over days now, and it would take some pretty hot days to significantly increase a monthly average of course.

  2. February 27, 2013 2:43 am

    About 20 years ago one of the major USA TV companies visited Alice Springs and did sort of a highlights of the area, explained a little of its history, setting, and living conditions. Houses and a church were shown – all underground. Seems the locals are prepared for hot.

    • Rod permalink
      February 27, 2013 10:03 pm

      That sounds more like Coober Pedy (an opal mining town) than Alice Springs.

      • February 28, 2013 6:18 am

        Thanks. You are correct. Only off by about 600 kms. Part of the story was about opals and the dreams of the independent miners. Visitors could search through the piles of rubble brought to the surface – “noodling”; a term applied to a form of fishing in the SE USA.

  3. Alex permalink
    February 27, 2013 5:51 am

    The Bureau of meteorology also publish long term Annual Mean Temperature Anomoly. The web adress is below. Raw data can also be downloaded from this site. I woudl be interested in your analysis of this?

    • February 27, 2013 11:38 am

      It’s noticeable that the long term 7 year trend has been coming down since 2003, and also that the same sort of cooling in the 50’s and 60’s appears as in the NH.

      There’s clear correlation with the PDO.

  4. Ian H permalink
    February 27, 2013 7:24 pm

    Well, once they re-re-readjust it upwards it should be unprecedented.

  5. PAul Burtwistle permalink
    February 27, 2013 9:43 pm

    I live near Brisbane, Qld and can only provide a viewpoint from my personal experience and from the thermometer installed in my backside not any accurate data set. To this end, I’d say that this summer has been slightly cooler and less humid than usual.
    It was very dry through to the beginning of Feb (which got the greenies and the press shouting about warming) but since then it’s rained regularly causing lots of localised flooding (which has got the greenies and the press shouting about warming).
    However, this happens every few years in Qld – it’s not unusual. I remember heavier rainy periods (with lots of flooding) and also much warmer dry periods (with related bush fires and droughts). This is Qld’s weather cycle, hot dry spells and very wet spells. It’s been this way since I lived here and for thousands of years beforehand. This will continue to be this way with or without human intervention.

    I only have to think back around 5 years ago when the dam levels were down below 20% and we had severe water restrictions in place. At that time the Premier, Anna Bligh speaking on BOM’s advice, stated several times that “the people of Qld will have to get used to living with water restrictions, the days of 100% dam levels are gone forever”. Role forward 3 years and we were emptying the dams as quickly as we could and they have been at over 90% for over 2 years now – we are releasing water as I type this. Similar things have happened in other Australian States as well.

    I’ll leave you to make up your own mind on how reliable long term weather predictions for Australia are and whether we should listen to the warmists or BOM for that matter.

    • Streetcred permalink
      February 28, 2013 4:18 am

      Hear ! hear !

  6. Rod permalink
    February 27, 2013 10:09 pm

    It doesn’t alter the veracity of your argument, but Nhill is in the Wimmera region of Victoria not in South Australia. It is good to see that we are not going to fry or b roasted any time soon, isn’t it? When will the ‘believers’ open their eyes to the facts?

    • February 28, 2013 10:54 am

      Thanks Rod.

      I could not even find it on a map! Had to use Google Earth.

  7. Brian H permalink
    June 29, 2013 7:35 pm

    More GHGs, quick!!
    The vast bulk of the atmosphere is composed of N2 and O2, non-radiative non-GHGs. They are unable to dispose of sensible heat except through evaporative loss from the top of the atmosphere. Only GHGs can radiate energy to space. Hence, in their absence, the atmosphere would heat until it could “boil” away enough mass to counterbalance solar irradiation.

    Hence GHGs are cooling agents which preserve atmospheric mass. The Warmist (and Luke-warmist) positions are 180° wrong. As usual.

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