Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Oh. My. God.

What looked like serious cloud in the sky this afternoon turned out to be mostly smoke. Parts of the Adelaide Hills are on fire. Tomorrow it'll be 40 degrees with a northerly wind blowing. Temperatures near, at or over 40 are being forecast until next Wednesday, making a total of two and a half weeks of uninterrupted heatwave conditions.

Oh I know, this is Adelaide, yes. This is what we have, yes. There's a wonderful painting of the reading of the Proclamation of the Colony of South Australia on December 28th 1836, showing a lot of recognisable characters and a lot more unrecognisable ones gathered at the Old Gum Tree in North Glenelg for the historic occasion. They're dressed in full Victorian clobber and apparently it was 104 degrees Fahrenheit that day (not sure what that is in new money, probably more or less 40). But that was December. And I remember Ash Wednesday. But that was February.

I even remember the train journey when I moved to Victoria from South Australia, a night ride through the blazing Adelaide Hills with the bush on fire on both sides of us as we rushed through the darkness, with the cool change following just behind the train, and that was at the end of a two-week heatwave too, as I recall -- but that, too, was February. As it was the week the rainbow lorikeets fell dead from the sky into the back yard when it hit 42 three days in a row. As I said at the time, at least it meant there was something green on the ground.

But this is apocalyptic. We're almost into the third week in March. I'm dreading the crush in Haigh's when the temperature finally drops to 31, as it is forecast to do, two days before Good Friday, and I bet the Haigh's staff are, too. And it's hard to imagine what P and L are thinking as their outdoor wedding approaches. P is a doctor; it's entirely possible that he will have to interrupt his own wedding ceremony to leap into action when some overcome guest faints dead away.

As I lay prostrate and moaning in a darkened room over the weekend with an iced facewasher on my head, it did cross my mind to wonder how many deaths -- of, in particular, the very old, the very young and the very ill -- during this weather are partly or wholly heat-related. Especially when it goes on for two and a half weeks.

Not that the climate is changing, or anything alarmist like that.

12 comments:

Susoz said...

Sorry to hear it's so bad there. It's strangely disassociating [if that's a word] to read about it from Sydney as we had such a non-event of a summer, although it's nicely sunny this week.

TimT said...

Hot weather's a real bugger - I'm a real autumn/winter person myself. Sorry to hear about it. From the weather bureau predictions, it sounds like we're due to get Adelaide's heatwave - oh - right about now, but so far it's lovely and cool. I just hope the weather bureau are as wrong about the next week as they were about yesterday (when the hot weather was really supposed to kick in.)

kris said...

OH! I hate the heat. I'm feeling for you guys. (I've been whinging about Canberra being 33 today - deepest apologies!) Just keep thinking that winter is coming... soon. By this time next month the weather will be a different place again...

Ampersand Duck said...

sending chilly thoughts your way, but reserving a few for ourselves (bashfully, as Kris points out).

Makes you want to move somewhere cool, but where? I guess that's what the polar bears are thinking, too...

Chris said...

I was at an outdoor wedding in Melbourne on the weekend where someone passed out, and that was only thirty-something. I hope your friends lay in a good stock of umbrellas. Maybe they should hand out water bottles to arriving guests...

sarah said...

You know you've been hot for too long when a forecast of 31 seems blissfully cool! It also has a certain mirage-like quality at the moment.

Mindy said...

Not to be macabre or anything, but apparently the tally stands at 5.

Kate G said...

It's getting to 32 in Hobart tomorrow. Last week we had a day where the maximum temp was 12 degrees. What is UP with this kooky weather???
Ahhh, it makes life interesting, doesn't it? :o)

http://todayislovely.blogspot.com/

ocky said...

stay inside, in a darkened room, with a damp tea-towel on the back of your neck. Keep a good supply of gin and tonic at hand. Read cold books (People's Act of Love or Natural History of the Dead) listen to cool jazz. This will pass.

Jennifer said...

I agree with Susoz - our wet and cooler Sydney summer has made us Sydneysiders forget (slightly) about global warming - we're so insular, as the rest of Australia keeps reminding us.

I remember what it was like last year, though - and it wasn't as bad as you're having - sounds horrible.

Anonymous said...

No sympathy for climate change denialists.

Suffer, for you have sinned.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Anonymous, sweetie, the last sentence of my post was sarcasm. You're obviously not a regular visitor here or you would have known that.

Thanks everyone else for advice and well-directed sympathy to a sweltering non-sinner (!) -- Jennifer, just looking at your gravatar made me feel better.