December 5, 2012

The hottest day

Yesterday was damn hot. The forecasters said it would reach 38C or 39C in Brisbane: in fact, it reached 37.9 at 15.29, 12 degrees above average for South East Queensland. It was hotter elsewhere in the state: the top temp was 43, at Century Mine, which has a splendid name and is the second-largest zinc mine in the world. It is 1760 kilometres northwest of Brisbane.

Since I arrived in Brisbane almost three years ago, it's been 33C, or maybe even 35C, in the summer of 2011, but that extra couple of degrees yesterday seemed to make a difference. The surfaces in my apartment were warm, as if we'd whacked the central heating up; the water coming out of the cold tap wasn't; my computer was definitely struggling; and the crows were quiet. I stayed in all day and wrote about climate change.

It's difficult to convey a sizzling city, photographically: the sky whites out and the high-risers lose detail and colour. This was the view from my cityside balcony at 9 am, 11 am, 1pm and 3 pm, just before the hottest point of the day. It became hazy-cloudy around about lunchtime but, after a slight drop, the thermometer moved on up.
By mid-afternoon there was quite a stiff breeze. I should add at this point that I didn't have the aircon on. We don't do aircon, my friend and I: we might occasionally use a fan, if the going gets really tough. We live on the 5th floor of an apartment block by the river, with wide-opening doors at either end, so the through-draught is considerable. Yesterday it was more like being hairdryered than cooled, however. It was particularly challenging to keep the apartment cool after about 5, by which time the sun was hitting the cityside and the gusty wind meant I couldn't have the blinds down and the doors open. I didn't succeed, and I wouldn't be surprised if you think I was mad to try.

So, was it the hottest December day on record in Brisbane? As far as I can determine, it was the hottest for a decade (40C on 24 December 2001): but the record was 41.2 in 1981. I need to check these figures with BOM.

I think the heat must have affected aircraft navigation systems. I watched these contrails at about 18.30.

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