Australia's highest temperature in 15 years

Last updated 16:27 13/01/2013

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A town in the far northeast of South Australia yesterday recorded a maximum temperature of 49.6 degrees - the highest temperature recorded in Australia in 15 years.

The last time a higher temperature was recorded was in February 1998, in the Western Australian region of Pilbara, where Nyang reached 49.8 degrees.

Moomba's 49.6 degrees was also the highest temperature recorded in SA since Oodnadatta reached 50.3 degrees in January 1960.

Australia's record is held by Oodnadatta: 50.7 degrees, also in January 1960.

Yesterday a wide area around Moomba was also very hot, reaching the high 40s. In far western Queensland Birdsville got to 48.6 degrees, its hottest day in 22 years. This is also Queensland's highest temperature in 22 years, since it reached 48.8 at Birdsville in December 1990.

In northwestern New South Wales yesterday Bourke reached 48 degrees, its hottest day since 1939, which was also a year of a heatwave. Bourke's 48.3 degrees is the highest recorded temperature in NSW since Ivanhoe had a 48.5-degree day in February 2004.

Since this current heatwave began at about New Year, the location which has the hottest week has been Oodnadatta in SA. Oodnadatta averaged a maximum of 46.5 degrees from January 2 to January 8.

Today the highest temperatures will be in far northeastern SA, southwest Queensland and northwestern NSW. Moomba, Birdsville, Thargomindah and Bourke should reach 48 or 49 degrees.

A cooler change will then move through, making Monday and Tuesday noticeably cooler, about 10 degrees cooler. On Monday Bourke should only reach 35 degrees, Moomba 37. On Tuesday Birdsville should only get to 41.

Heat will build again during the week, peaking late in the week or next weekend, but it is unlikely to get as hot as this weekend. Cloud from tropical cyclones and lows off Western Australia will reduce the amount of heating over central Australia.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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