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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE and HUMANITY ENHANCED.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The hottest day I've ever experienced

I guess it's worth recording these things.

The temperature here today passed 44 degrees Celsius - that's well over 110 Fahrenheit for all of you guys who think in the Fahrenheit scale. This is the hottest day in Melbourne since a long time before I was born, let alone lived here in Melb (the record was actually back in 1939), and I'm sure I've never experienced a day this hot anywhere else. When I was a kid, back in Newcastle where I grew up, and we still thought in Fahrenheit in Australia, there were sometimes heatwaves with day after day over 100 degrees, but never a day that hit 110 degrees or more. In more recent times, I've experienced 43 degree Celsius days. But this has got to be my personal record. Some other cities in Australia hit even higher temperatures at different times in the last few days.

So I guess I have a good excuse for the lethargy that I'm feeling at the moment as I sit here with sweat dripping.

11 comments:

Steelman said...

No air conditioning?
I thought Melbourne was located in a civilized nation.

I live about 50 miles east of San Francisco (which means a vastly different climate than on the coast), and having A/C in the home makes summer much more pleasant.

Maybe the usual sea breezes aren't blowing your way today?

Russell Blackford said...

Well, 110-plus degrees Fahrenheit (for American readers) day after day isn't exactly usual, even in Melbourne in late January. It would take more than the usual sea breeze ... even though I live only ten minutes' walk from Albert Park beach.

Living in a well-insulated house, and not minding reasonable summer heat, I can't justify either the expense or the carbon emissions impact of air conditioning ... just because it might come in handy once every few years when something a bit like this happens. If I lived 50 miles from the coast, maybe I'd think differently. Hard to say.

Greg Egan said...

Commiserations! Perth's outdone that a few times in my lifetime -- 46.7 on 23 February 1991! -- but we've been relatively pleasant this summer. I see the forecast is promising you a mere 37 for tomorrow.

Are you sure you haven't had worse on your travels? I used to visit Port Hedland every 3 months, in its days of infamy, and it was often 46-48 in summer. I'd spend the nights in a tent in a caravan park, and the days visiting the detention centre; initially that meant sitting in a visitor's yard outdoors, though after a couple of years the management relented and let us have summer visits indoors, in the airconditioning. After a while you just got used to it; it became kind of funny and surreal, rather than oppressive.

I don't have airconditioning, but I do switch on an electric fan now and then. I really ought to get ceiling insulation, though; it's quite a big outlay but I expect it would be worth it.

Russell Blackford said...

Greg, I'm pretty sure I'd have sat up and taken notice if my travels had ever involved days at 44 degrees Celsius/111 degrees Fahrenheit or more.

I'm more likely to have travelled to places a lot colder than Melbourne than a lot hotter. Even at Uluru or in far north Queensland, it never got this hot while I was there ... but I wasn't there at the hottest times of year.

Anyway, I've survived the heatwave just fine - I don't actually mind the heat all that much, even if I was pretty lethargic yesterday.

At the risk of pissing off the anti-sport people, what amazes me every year, and the more so this year, is the conditioning of those guys and gals playing professional tennis in this heat in the Australian Open ... and of course it's much hotter still down on the courts. I'm about as non-sporting as they come but not all that unfit. I know I'd feel knocked out after a few minutes of just standing there, let alone running around exerting myself to the limit for two or three hours.

Russell Blackford said...

Note: Apparently it got to 45.1 yesterday. I'm not sure what the maximum was the previous day - the day I originally wrote this post about.

Greg Egan said...

It reached 44.3 in Melbourne on Thursday.

Russell Blackford said...

Thanks, Greg - I love the BoM stats. I spent a bit of last night looking at them after you sent me the first link.

So 44.3 and now 45.1 ... or roughly 113 in the old scale.

Coathangrrr said...

I remember visiting my Grandmother in Arizona, USA fifteen or so years ago. It got so hot they had to shut down the airport because the planes were having trouble taking off and landing. The tires kept melting and they had trouble getting enough lift. I think it broke 49 C that day. But Arizona regularly breaks 110, so it wasn't that far out there.

Coathangrrr said...

Er, the 110 is F, not C. For the record.

Russell Blackford said...

110 C would certainly be warmish.

Russell Blackford said...

Over 46 degrees on Saturday the 7th of Feb, but we weren't here for it. See my post dated Monday the 9th.