Australian Outback Is Now Hot Enough To Vaporise Petrol

Forget frying eggs on the footpath, never mind the new heat index colours, Australia's record-setting heatwave is so intense that drivers in the outback are unable to refuel their vehicles. Why? Because the petrol evaporates as soon as it's pumped.

The tiny town of Oodnadatta, located 1000km north of Adelaide, has faced near continuous 45C temperatures over the past week with a 48C peak last Tuesday. "It's like a wall of fire when you walk outside at the moment," Mrs Plate, an Oodnadatta resident told The Age. Coincidentally, 45C is also the temperature at which petrol vaporises. As such, drivers looking to refuel have to do so in the early morning hours when temperatures are slightly less sweltering.

Over the last 30 years, Australia has gotten 1C hotter on average. And in Oodnadatta, the mercury has jumped by 0.9C during the day and remains 1.3C hotter at night than it did three decades ago. No wonder some residents have to replace their refrigerators twice a year.

[The Age via Inhabitat]

Picture: fritz16/Shutterstock



    Commercial fridges and freezers at a roadhouse crapping out twice a year doesn't mean 180 people have to buy two a year. Is it just me or are these American articles getting worse? They don't even read the source properly and jump to unbased conclusions.

    Quote from US Gizmodo "No wonder the town's 180 residents have to replace their refrigerators twice a year."

    Last edited 15/01/13 10:02 am

      If it was American they would have used Farenheit.

        Actually, I agree with dknigs. Giz and LH 'writers' often like to masquerade as Aussies and will use metric in order to maintain the deception. They usually come unstuck when their articles allude to stereotypes or common perceptions they have of this country. It's about as convincing as a "shrimp on the barbie" or "Good day, mate". Sigh

          There's no "masquerade" going on. The Australian Editors will typically convert elements to a more recognisable form(for Australian readers), whether that's changing the names of seasons, so that they match the lower hemisphere, or changing temperatures from Fahrenheit to Celsius.

            Really? What about phrases such as "Now that summer's fully here" written by an American LH staff contributor in the first week of January? I'd say fair enough if he actually was in Australia at the time, but the advice of his article, and its proximity to severe weather and bushfire events suggests that he very clearly wasn't.

            Still, I'm well aware of Aussie LH's attempts to translate American terminology into Aussie, and even the reasons for it. It's the blatant, yet inept, pretence by some American writers to prepare articles from an "Aussie" perspective that I take exception to, especially when it calls out a stereotype. I find it patronising and disingenuous.

          It's quite clear that there is no masquerading, the Australian editors edit the article so we understand it better.

          LOL, that looks like it was translated for this article. 0.9 degrees C hotter is apparently 33 F hotter.

      This article says 'some residents', so I'm not sure where you're getting '180 people' from. Usually in English, 'some' means 'somewhere between two and half the total'. Unless I'm mistaken, the owners of the roadhouse qualify as 'some residents'. There's nothing wrong with what Andrew wrote, which you might have noticed if you weren't so eager to not 'read the article properly' and 'jump to unbased conclusions'.

        And Gizmodo once again ninja edits an article. There was plenty wrong with the article originally posted.

        Seems I need to bloody screenshot articles around here before complaining otherwise I'll be lynched after the article is edited.

        Last edited 15/01/13 9:27 am

    What a ridiculous claim. Can't pump petrol because it evaporates as soon as pumped. Tarantola your an idiot!! They are talking about the extra fumes from petrol as it is poured into the vehicle, not disappearing out of the tank or before it gets there...

    Last edited 15/01/13 9:02 am

      Uh, but it does evaporate from the tank when the cap is off, about as fast as steam does in a boiling pot of water. Loose seals on caps cause petrol evaporation even on normal warm days, but when the tank temperature is high enough you lose a fair bit just while the cap is off.

      actually they physically can't pump any petrol, it vaporises in the underground tank, locking up the pump for safety and the fuel can't be accessed again until it cools off.

      They always say if fueling in that part of the country to do so early morning when you get the most fuel for your money.

        Yep, experienced this on several occasions, where the pumps were unable to pump fuel because it was vaporized in the underground tank.

        @zombiejesus @browndog
        Yes that may be the case, however the way the article is written it makes it sound like the petrol evaporates between the spigot and the cars tank.


    Seriously, why do people live out there?
    You can't live on the side of an active volcano and then complain when your village gets destroyed by lava.
    It's a desert. It's too hot for humans. Move.

      You can't live on the side of an active volcano and then complain when your village gets destroyed by lava.


      I've heard a few residents interviewed on Triple J in the past week, none of them were complaining, they were all joking about it and accepted it as a part of life.

      I have nothing but admiration for them, I couldn't live there and I've lived in some hot places, most notably Weipa for six months. They are tough as nails and are necessary to the well being of that part of the country.

    I went to Darwin for 3 weeks during September/October, and the locals were saying how hot it was and blah blah blah, it was a consistant heat but nothing I haven't experienced in Brisbane before. Maybe some of those Darwin people should go to Oodnadatta for a week.

      It's a matter of humidity - the humidity in Darwin tends to average far, far higher than Brisso, especially in the buildup leading to the wet. Usually Sept-Dec the humidity will range from 50-95% while the temperatures climb to the ungodly 35-36. While it never really gets much hotter, and doesn't come close to the 45+ temperatures currently being experienced through the centre, the humidity makes those temperatures just as unbearable as the massive highs in the dryer parts of the country.

    It is Hot in Oonadatta...

    Petrol does NOT boil and vaporise at 45 degrees C... AS in all of the hydrocarbons do not magically vaporise instantly....

    Yes it does loose more vapour, yes the hot jerry can does hiss a little when opened, but the boiling point if petrol is quite a bit higher than 45 degrees.

    Ok water evaporates even at sub freezing temperatures, petrol evaporates at low temps tool so if you leave a puddle on the ground at 45 degrees it would evaporate, but that is not the phenomenon the article is describing...

    Sure the Pumps may be having vapour-lock (check location of pump, if is in the sun at ground level, the pump body may be over 100 degrees C..... That could cause problems..

    Remember vapour lock in carburetor cars, the fuel in the bowl vaporises,, it happens on very hot days, when the temp under the hood is well over 100 degrees C.... (the ambient temp may be 45, the direct sun plus engine temps are much hotter...

    Remember, Oodnadatta has always been hot, one degree C or so (if that in fact is the case which I doubt (Statistics, lies and more statistics) ) makes little difference..

    (Just as sealevel rise... you know, very low lying places when I was a child are still low lying, with little sign of being flooded any more frequently....)

    Another reason to have a diesel vehicle in the bush.

    Crikey! Goodday Mite!! (sic)
    Even in the middle of winter it's so hot here downunder in Oonadata, thousands of miles from Sydney our capital city, that the gas turns to gas before you can pump it!
    (And the Mercury under the hood in my Mercury shows waaay over 100).
    At least the Fosters is still drinkable!
    (Change Fosters to Fourex for UK readers & add a "cobber" somewhere)

    What a load of crap. I live in the central desert, and last week drove from Sydney to Alice Springs during the heatwave, and I stopped every afternoon to top up the tank ( a necessity out here) and I saw 40-46 degrees almost every day (except one beautiful cold day in Port Augusta) and not once, not once was there any issue with refuelling of any sort. Whoever wrote this/approved it for publication should stick to what they know- lattes and iPads I'd guess- and not make up spurious bullshit about a place they'd never have the balls to visit.

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