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Forty six point one degrees !!!

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"The Age" has Melbourne at 46.4 - an all time record temp. Some dude they reported said the temperature in the shade of his veranda was 52...and his grape crop in the vineyard was being scorched.

52 - that is insane, only 6 of the World record set in Libya.


14 confirmed dead and maybe 40+ from Victorian Bushfires. Pretty tragic.


I am seriously beginning to wonder how long will Australia have a habitable year round climate? how will the summer be in Melbourne in 2050?

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Originally Posted By: SG

I am seriously beginning to wonder how long will Australia have a habitable year round climate? how will the summer be in Melbourne in 2050?

So do I.
But we are talking mostly about the inland areas. Yesterdays maximum here on the coast was 25.1 deg. While just 200km inland we had 43.2 deg.
Melbourne, Perth and Adelade often get ridiculously hot weather in summer but it's usually only short lived.
It's one thing to get these temps in places like Marble bar (where nobody lives) but when we get it in a city of 3 million people.......that is a worry.
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Originally Posted By: Mantas

Melbourne, Perth and Adelade often get ridiculously hot weather in summer but it's usually only short lived. .

err, Adelaide'S last heat wave was a week of over 40 (max 46) and the week following was 38-40! 14 days of that and I don't think you'd be calling that short lived!

If port aguta (augusta) was hot try going a bit inland to Quorn, usually that is a few degrees hotter and 50 isn't uncommon!
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SG was talking about the 'habitable year round climate' . 3 or 4 weeks out of 52 of horendous hot weather doesn't make the place unihabitable IMO.


Buggered if I'd want to live there though. .....25 deg. here again today.

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Aust has always had periods of intense heat, records that are being broken are in some cases many years and decades old. That said, some climate guy I read recently was saying that record breaking episodes of extreme heat and cold have always happened, but recently they happen more frequently for heat than cold on something like a 3 to 1 ratio. and there are the fires....just incredible what has happened down around kinglake and maryville.


Imagine, you've done the right thing, you've got the fire plan in place, you've clered the bush away from your house, filled your gutter with water etc. the fire is miles away and then the chnage come through and brings cool weather but with it, the fire becomes super charged and changes direction - suddenly the stay and fight approach is suicide so you bundle the wife and kids into the car and head off down the road in white out/black out conditions. you can't see a thing, cars are running off the road, running into each other, buildings and tree and cars are busting into flames...what it must have been like when they realised they couldn't get out.

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The initial response in this day and age of information overload and mobility is to really question how anybody could get caught in the fire, with an understandable, but perhaps unkind view that the people involved were at least partly responsible for putting themselves in harm's way. This article from the Australian provides a bit more insight into why people were caught in the fire...




WHEN bushfires turn lethal, the terror begins long before the burning embers and flames arrive, and the sky glows orange in the heat.


At their most hellish, these firestorms are like a giant runaway train: out of control, all but unstoppable, indiscriminately destructive. They move so fast that any poor soul fleeing at the last minute risks being engulfed.


The only saving grace is they don't happen more frequently in this great, sunburnt land.


But tell that to the loved ones of the 12 people who died on Black Saturday in Victoria around the mountain hamlet of Kinglake.


Or to the families of the four victims in StAndrews, the once-leafy enclave north of Melbourne where this newspaper's Gary Hughes only just got himself and his family away as their home of 25 years burned around them. And to the black-faced, bone-weary fire crews who were searching for bodies in the charred ruins of devastated Marysville or in the destroyed homesteads dotted around the Bunyip State Forest, east of the Victorian capital, where a conflagration came roaring out of the trees on Saturday night, defying every effort to stop it.


The overall death toll was 76 last night, with the potential to rise further, as authorities warned they still did not have a complete picture of who was caught in the fires that ripped through a deadly arc north and east of Melbourne, in the worst such disaster to strike since the Ash Wednesday outbreaks nearly 26 years ago.


The scars of that disaster on February 16, 1983, which claimed 47 lives in Victoria and another 28 in South Australia, remain raw and led to an overhaul of firefighting practices as well as better engagement with householders to battle bushfires. Central to this was the concept of fight or flight: people in vulnerable areas were encouraged to prepare fire plans on how to evacuate or defend their property when bushfire threatened.


The key was to make the choice early: if the decision was to go, they were told to hit the road well in advance of the flames.


One of the lessons of Ash Wednesday was that people could protect their homes and survive if they did the required preparation. Gutters, combustibles in the yard and overhanging foliage needed to be cleared. When the time came, hoses were to be set up, sinks and tubs filled with water to damp down spot fires ahead, and after the passage of the front.


The worst option, firefighters emphasised, was to be semi-committed: if a bushfire bore down there would be no halfway house for vacillators: to flee then was to risk death.


"There has been over 30 years of debate among fire experts as to whether people should stay and defend their property or leave early when there is a real risk of bushfire approaching," says Robert Heath, a psychologist and crisis management expert at the University of South Australia.


"Personally, my feeling is that most people should evacuate in the case of mega-fires - that is, when you have multiple spotting of fires ahead of a large firefront."


Authorities put increased emphasis on aerial suppression of firefronts, especially with the giant sky crane helicopters that are now a fixture of summer bushfire fighting in Australia. However, it made little difference during those fatal hours on Saturday night in Victoria. Why? In this case, the threat was known and emergency services were mobilised. The change in weather conditions that sparked the emergency had been predicted well in advance.


History provides a guide. It's no accident that mega-fires, once started, turn into infernos that defeat the heroics of firefighters and claim lives. In the lead-up to Ash Wednesday in 1983, Victoria had endured 10 months of drought; the warning signs had been apparent for months after a total fire ban was declared across the state the previous November, until then the earliest in the fire season such a measure had been imposed. On the day itself, Wednesday, February 16, 1983, the temperature soared to over 40C while relative humidity dropped to 15 per cent.


Fast-forward to Saturday. Melbourne baked in record 46.5C heat as northerly winds drew in blistering air from the deserts of central Australia. It was even hotter outside the city: in the paddocks around Avalon, the mercury had hit 47.9C by mid-afternoon.


Relief was to have been brought to the city by a cooling wind change but, as in 1983, this proved to be a hydra-headed monster for those in the fire zone. The temperature, after dipping in Melbourne, began to rise again as bushfires took hold on its northern outskirts. A smoke haze drifted across the city, imparting a sense of surreality to the unfolding emergency.


To put the threat in perspective, the forest fire danger index for the Adelaide Hills on Saturday was 111, against 50 for Ash Wednesday. The South Australian capital got off lightly when the temperature topped out at a relatively moderate 41C on Saturday, and because the cool change that came through in the early afternoon did not pack the punch of the wind shift that blasted into Victoria a few hours later.


That turned the prevailing wind direction from the north to southwesterly outside Melbourne, pushing the flames east, on to the Kinglake area, Marysville and St Andrews. In east Gippsland, the fires in the Bunyip forest burst through containment lines. In many cases, there was little firefighters could do except save themselves.


Questions are sure to be asked about whether more could have been done to warn communities in danger. Inquiries have inevitably followed bushfire disasters and this one in Victoria will be no exception.


The parallels between Black Saturday, 2009, and Ash Wednesday can be traced further along the timeline. It's no coincidence the heat records broken in Victoria over the weekend had stood since January 1939, when the Black Friday fires killed 71 people in logging communities in the state's high country (on the day of the Black Friday outbreaks, the temperature topped 45.6C in Melbourne).


A subsequent royal commission blamed the careless use of campfires and land clearing; supervised burning techniques that endure today were subsequently developed.


The 2003 Canberra fires, which killed four, raised searching questions about co-operation between the ACT and NSW fire authorities and whether more could have been done to have stopped the inferno before it broke into the national capital.


The inquiry recommended increased emphasis on controlled burning as a fuel-reduction strategy in national parks, and improvements to training for volunteer and fire crews. Crucially, more emphasis was to be placed on informing the public of emerging bushfire threats, especially in urban areas.


After the Eyre Peninsula disaster in South Australia in January 2005 claimed nine lives, a coroner found that fire authorities had wrongly assumed the deadly blaze had been contained, resulting in a crucial delay in issuing warnings.


But Victorian fire authorities insist no amount of preparation could have coped with the deadly conditions on late Saturday. "You couldn't fight it, nobody could," one tearful survivor says.


"It rained fire," says another.


Raylene Kincaide of Narbethong, near devastated Marysville, northeast of Melbourne, thought she would never go through another bushfire as bad as Ash Wednesday, but this was worse. "Everyone we know has lost everything they had," she says.


The term mega-fire was coined in the US, but fire experts say Australians may need to get used to it. Rod Incoll, a fire management consultant who was formerly a chief fire office responsible for Victoria's state forests and national parks, says such blazes go off "like a nuclear release ... you're talking about megawatts of energy".


As was the case on Saturday, these are typically formed by several fires, covering a huge area, converging. They exhibit complex behaviour, create their own weather and burn on and on, brushing aside the most intense and sophisticated efforts to contain them.


Kevin O'Loughlin of the Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre points out that the worst fires in recorded history in the US have occurred in the past decade, and Australia is likely to be no exception as the drought drags on in the southern half of the continent. There, lower rainfall and higher temperatures associated with global warming threaten to intensify the bushfire menace.


The scenes described by survivors of the Black Saturday blazes in Victoria are salutary. As the firefront approached, the sky blackened. Spotfires broke out as blazing embers fell from the heavens. The heat intensified and a blistering wind, whipped up by the change of air pressure caused by the fire sucking in oxygen, sounded like a "freight train", according to one account.


"Most people are not psychologically prepared for the noise and heat of a mega-fire," Heath warns.


Phil Cheney, an honorary research scientist with the CSIRO, says the tips of flames in a firestorm burn at 300C, while at the base of the fire the temperature can climb to 1000C. Radiant heat reaches out to kill long before the fire itself arrives.


Incoll fears that there is only so much fire crews can do in the face of a monster conflagration. "The fuel loads are so high because there has been no strategic burning done," he prophetically told The Australian in December 2006. "Those large fires just get going and once they get going you can't stop them because the fire intensity, the heat generated by the fire, exceeds the fairly puny efforts that human intervention can exert."


University of Tasmania bushfire management expert David Bowman agrees. "This is a truly terrible situation," he says.


And let's not forget something else: this hot, dry summer in southeastern Australia still has a long way to go. South Australia and Tasmania are tinderboxes, and NSW is feeling the heat, too.


There may be more black days to come.


Jamie Walker is The Australian's Adelaide bureau chief.

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As one survivor describes it...


THEY warn you it comes fast. But the word "fast" doesn't come anywhere near describing it.


It comes at you like a runaway train. One minute you are preparing. The next you are fighting for your home. Then you are fighting for your life.


But it is not minutes that come between. It's more like seconds. The firestorm moves faster than you can think, let alone react.


For 25 years, we had lived on our hilltop in St Andrews, in the hills northeast of Melbourne.


You prepare like they tell you every summer.


You clear. You slash. You prime your fire pump. For 25 years, fires were something that you watched in the distance.


Until Saturday.


We had been watching the massive plume of smoke from the fire near Kilmore all afternoon; secure in the knowledge it was too far away to pose a danger.


Then suddenly there is smoke and flames across the valley, about a kilometre to the northwest, being driven towards you by the wind. Not too bad, you think.


I rush around the side of the house to start the petrol-powered fire pump to begin spraying the house, just in case.


When I get there, I suddenly see flames rushing towards the house from the west. The tongues of flame are in our front paddock, racing up the hill towards us across grass stubble I thought safe because it had been slashed.


In the seconds it takes me to register the flames, they are into a small stand of trees 50m from the house. Heat and embers drive at me like an open blast furnace. I run to shelter inside, like they tell you, until the fire front passes.


Inside are my wife, a 13-year-old girl we care for, and a menagerie of animals "rescued" over the year by our veterinary-student daughter.


They call it "ember attack". Those words don't do it justice.


It is a fiery hailstorm from hell driving relentlessly at you. The wind and driving embers explore, like claws of a predator, every tiny gap in the house. Embers are blowing through the cracks around the closed doors and windows.


We frantically wipe at them with wet towels. We are fighting for all we own. We still have hope.


The house begins to fill with smoke. The smoke alarms start to scream. The smoke gets thicker.


I go outside to see if the fire front has passed. One of our two cars under a carport is burning. I rush inside to get keys for the second and reverse it out into an open area in front of the house to save it.


That simple act will save our lives. I rush back around the side of the house, where plastic plant pots are in flames. I turn on a garden hose. Nothing comes out.


I look back along its length and see where the flames have melted it. I try to pick up one of the carefully positioned plastic buckets of water I've left around the house. Its metal handle pulls away from the melted sides.


I rush back inside the house. The smoke is much thicker. I see flames behind the louvres of a door into a storage room, off the kitchen. I open the door and there is a fire burning fiercely.


I realise the house is gone. We are now fighting for our lives.


We retreat to the last room in the house, at the end of the building furthest from where the firestorm hit. We slam the door, shutting the room off from the rest of the house. The room is quickly filling with smoke. It's black, toxic smoke, different from the superheated smoke outside.


We start coughing and gasping for air. Life is rapidly beginning to narrow to a grim, but inevitable choice. Die from the toxic smoke inside. Die from the firestorm outside.


The room we are in has french doors opening on to the front veranda. Somewhere out of the chaos of thoughts surfaces recent media bushfire training I had done with the CFA. When there's nothing else, a car might save you.


I run the 30 or 40 steps to the car through the blast furnace. I wrench open the door to start the engine and turn on the airconditioning, as the CFA tells you, before going back for the others.


The key isn't in the ignition. Where in hell did I put it? I rush back to the house. By now the black, toxic smoke is so thick I can barely see the others. Everyone is coughing. Gasping. Choking. My wife is calling for one of our two small dogs, the gentle, loyal Gizmo, who has fled in terror.


I grope in my wife's handbag for her set of car keys. The smoke is so thick I can't see far enough to look into the bag. I find them by touch, thanks to a plastic spider key chain our daughter gave her as a joke. Our lives are saved by a plastic spider. I tell my wife time has run out. We have to get to the car. The choices have narrowed to just one option, just one slim chance to live.


Clutching the second of our two small dogs, we run to the car. I feel the radiant heat burning the back of my hand. The CFA training comes back again. Radiant heat kills.


The three of us are inside the car. I turn the key. It starts. We turn on the airconditioning and I reverse a little further away from the burning building. The flames are wrapped around the full fuel tank of the other car and I worry about it exploding.


We watch our home - our lives, everything we own - blazing fiercely just metres away. The heat builds. We try to drive down our driveway, but fallen branches block the way. I reverse back towards the house, but my wife warns me about sheets of red-hot roofing metal blowing towards us.


I drive back down, pushing the car through the branches. Further down the 400m drive, the flames have passed. But at the bottom, trees are burning.


We sit in the open, motor running and airconditioner turned on full. Behind us our home is aflame. We calmly watch from our hilltop, trapped in the sanctuary of our car, as first the house of one neighbour, then another, then another goes up in flames. One takes an agonisingly slow time to go, as the flames take a tenuous grip at one end and work their way slowly along the roof. Another at the bottom of our hill, more than a 100 years old and made of imported North American timber, explodes quickly in a plume of dark smoke.


All the while the car is being buffeted and battered by gale-force winds and bombarded by a hail of blackened material. It sounds like rocks hitting the car.


The house of our nearest neighbour, David, who owns a vineyard, has so far escaped. But a portable office attached to one wall is billowing smoke.


I leave the safety of the car and cross the fence. Where is the CFA, he frantically asks. With the CFA's help, perhaps he can save his house. What's their number, he asks me. I tell him we had already rung 000, before our own house burnt. Too many fires. Too few tankers. I leave him to his torment. I walk back towards our own house in a forlorn hope that by some miracle our missing dog may have survived in some unburned corner of the building.


Our home, everything we were, is a burning, twisted, blackened jumble. Our missing dog, Gizmo, Bobby our grumpy cockatoo, Zena the rescued galah that spoke Greek and imitated my whistle to call the dogs, our free-flying budgie nicknamed Lucky because he escaped a previous bushfire, are all gone. Killed in theinferno that almost claimed us as well.


I return to the car and spot the flashing lights of a CFA tanker through the blackened trees across the road. We drive down the freeway, I pull clear more fallen branches and we reach the main road. I walk across the road to the tanker and tell them if they are quick they might help David save his house. I still don't know if they did. We stop at a police checkpoint down the hill. They ask us where we've come from and what's happening up the road. I tell them there's no longer anything up the road.


We stop at the local CFA station in St Andrews. Two figures sit hunched in chairs, covered by wet towels for their serious burns. More neighbours. We hear that an old friend, two properties from us, is missing. A nurse wraps wet towels around superficial burns on my wife's leg and my hand.


We drive to my brother's house, which fate had spared, on the other side of St Andrews.


The thought occurs to me, where do you start when you've lost everything, even a way to identify yourself. Then I realise, of course, it doesn't matter. We escaped with our lives. Just. So many others didn't.


Gary Hughes is a senior writer for The Australian




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Originally Posted By: Nisoko
Hard to comprehend how something like that can happen....

Storm force winds up to 100km/h.
46 deg. Celsius.
10% humidity.
Dry brown grass and trees.

I experienced something like it once in 94 when a fire threatened my parents property. That was scary enough. This fire was way way worse.

They are now are now going to re-write the book on fire survival. Trying to save your property in this situation is totally futile. A royal commision into the disaster will follow.
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Terrible situation!


I heard something on the news that officials are looking into whether some of the fires were intentionally started, or assisted in crossing firebreaks or suppression lines. If that's the case, the perpetrators most definitely need to be caught and thoroughly punished!

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Strange weather there is - all over the globe.

The extreme winter in Europe, and the ridiculously hot summer here in Oz (and these blasted fires).

Very very unsettling.


I feel so badly for those caught up in the disaster - there is some relief action going on through our school this week - and I will definitely be finding some time to assist there!

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