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.