Some Parts of Australia Are Baking Under a Record-Smashing Heat Wave

Some Parts of Australia Are Baking Under a Record-Smashing Heat Wave
Tourists day shelter at the old historical Onslow town site, Onslow, Pilbara, Western Australia. (Photo: Paul Mayall/DPA, AP)

It is really, really, really hot in some parts of Australia right now.

On Thursday, Onslow, a coastal town in Western Australia north of Perth, recorded a high temperature of 50.7 degrees Celsius. That sweltering heat ties the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, which was set in 1960 in the South Australia outback.

While Onslow was the hottest spot on the continent on Thursday, it wasn’t alone in suffering through the heat. The nearby towns of Roebourne and Mardie both recorded temperatures of 50.5 degrees Celsius, both of which are records as well. Before this week, Australia has only crossed the 50-degree-Celsius mark three times in its history. Now, it’s happened at three locations in one day — and even more intense heat is on the way.

Luke Huntington, a meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, told WA Today that the dry spring the area had could be contributing to the record-setting temperatures — and that this trend could continue.

“The Pilbara region has had persistent hot temperatures over the last few months. and there has been no rainfall to really take away the hot air that has built up,” he said. “Over the next few months. there is a high chance that temperatures on a day-to-day basis will be above average, at least until the wet season rains hit properly.”

Crossing that historic threshold is incredible in itself, but other places in WA broke temperature records or saw worrying highs this week. The coastal town of Karratha, which is a 134-kilometre drive away from Mardie, saw 48.4 degrees Celsius, breaking its previous record of 48.2 degrees Celsius. The Gascoyne region, where a bushfire is currently burning over 560,884 acres, also saw temperatures top 40 degrees Celsius. The BoM has extreme heatwave warnings in place for certain regions on the coast through Friday, and Onslow is expected to see 49 degrees Celsius on Friday.

The heat is increasingly par of the course in Australia, as burning fossil fuels continues to alter the climate.

Australia also isn’t the only place that has seen a summer from hell. Driven by heat in the northern hemisphere, last July ranked the hottest month on record. And with a sweltering heatwave also baking Argentina right now, it looks like it’s the southern hemisphere’s turn to buckle up.