Australia Just Experienced Its Hottest Day on Record
A firefighter douses a blaze near the Kulnura, New South Wales, Australia. (Photographer: David Gray/Bloomberg)

Australia Just Experienced Its Hottest Day on Record

(Bloomberg) -- Australia recorded its hottest day on record as the country’s populated eastern seaboard grapples with smoke from devastating bushfires, while the rush to the relief of air conditioning puts pressure on a vulnerable power grid.

The average maximum temperature across the country reached 40.9 Celsius (105.6 Fahrenheit) on Tuesday, beating the previous record of 40.3 Celsius on Jan. 7, 2013, according to the country’s weather bureau. The worst of the heat came across the continent’s interior, with vast swathes of territory experiencing severe heatwave conditions.

Though Sydney was relatively cool, the city has choked under the worst haze in decades because of a bushfire season that’s been more severe and started sooner than usual, with an area the size of Massachusetts already burnt up. Firefighters are bracing for more difficult conditions later in the week, with temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius seen in the greater Sydney area by the weekend.

The nation’s second city Melbourne saw the mercury soar into the high 30s Celsius on Wednesday, causing the energy market operator to issue warnings about a potential shortfall in power supply. The grid in Melbourne’s Victoria state is seen particularly vulnerable due to long-term outages at two major power plants. The operators of those plants, AGL Energy Ltd. and Origin Energy Ltd., have said the affected units will return to service by the end of the month.

Australia Just Experienced Its Hottest Day on Record

Much of eastern Australia has been hit with crippling drought in recent years amid increasingly hot summers and months without meaningful rainfall. Meanwhile, the government has been criticized for its lack of coherent climate policy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the country will comfortably meet its Paris Agreement target to reduce carbon emissions by at least 26% by 2030 from 2005 levels. His government has been a strong advocate for the coal industry and steadfastly opposes putting a price on carbon, and environmental groups have criticized him for refusing to link the intense heat and fires to climate change.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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