Saturday, January 18, 2014

Diary Of A Heatwave

With forecast temperatures in Melbourne of over 40C/100F for most of the week I knew I was in trouble.  In preparation for the weather week from hell I opened up all the windows in my place to really cool it down, knowing that even though I was wrapped in a blanket on my couch tonight it would pay off later on in the week as my apartment stayed cool for  just a little bit longer.

People had been complaining in previous weeks about the lack of a summer so far.  However, right on cue with the start of the Australian Open came the heat.  We didn't reach the forecast of 35C/95F today, so it felt like a mini victory.  When I got home from the gym my apartment was still cool.  Feeling a bit smug, but know tomorrow will be hot.

Today was day one of the extreme temperatures.  By the afternoon it had reached nearly 43C/109F.  I felt really sorry for the tennis players as play was never suspended during the day at the Australian Open.  As I headed home from the city around 9:00 pm the air was still so heavy and hot it was almost difficult to breathe.

Compared to yesterday today was slightly cooler at 41C/107F.  Despite some severe thunderstorm warnings in the afternoon nothing ever eventuated in Melbourne.  I have been increasingly thankful for the air conditioning on public transportation and at work as my only line of defense at home is one fan.  My apartment is heating up as expected and I caved a bit and left the bathroom window open during the night to get some air in.  I'm sort of like the frog in a pot of water that's being brought up to a slow boil.

Today's forecast was for 44C/111F.  You know things are bad when both The Age and Herald Sun are charting the rise in temperature hourly with graphics at the top of their webpages.  It's like they secretly want us to get beyond the forecast top.  In an unprecedented move Metro Trains requested early in the afternoon for people to leave work and go home as soon as practicable in order to spread out the evening commute as they knew trains would be cancelled due to the heat.  We turned off the lights in the office to preserve power and thankfully the extreme heat policy was finally enacted at the Australian Open.

As I exited the gym in the evening there was very loud thunder in the city, with the rain starting as soon as I got on the tram.  Unfortunately it wasn't really a cool change and although temperatures dropped a little bit, it was now both hot and humid.  When I got home I was still sweating inside so I finally caved and opened up the windows in my apartment for the night as it was the same temperature outside as it was inside: 30C/86F.  Tomorrow's forecast is for the same temperature as today.

The last day of the heat wave!  Everyone is eagerly awaiting the cool change which is due to come through later today.  Articles in the The Age included stories of people checking into hotels to escape the heat of their houses/apartments and the horror headline Melbourne is a 'Heat-Island' Death Trap.  I went outside in the afternoon with Amrita to get a gelati from Spring Street Grocer and it was stifling hot: over 43C/110F.  It felt like walking in an oven.  After 5:00 pm though our weather nightmare was finally over as the cool change dropped temperatures around 15 degrees Celsius within a half hour.  Although outside was noticeably cooler, my apartment was still extremely hot so I opened everything up once I got home knowing it will take a few days for things to cool down.

Slowly but surely my place is cooling and we only reached a top of 24C/75F today and had a nice breeze.  It's a welcome change to feel a little bit cold instead of sweating all the time!  Hopefully we won't have another run of heat like this for the rest of the summer, but who knows what will happen.

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