WA heat set to spread across Australia

Ben Domensino, 7 January 2019

Australia's furnace will be baking during the next week as temperatures soar into the high forties in parts of WA's Pilbara District.

Northern WA is where some of Australia's hottest air can be found. The region is often cloud-free during the early months of the wet season, before the monsoon arrives. It's also too far north to be affected by the cold fronts that venture out of the Southern Ocean during summer. This unique positioning makes the Pilbara an ideal spot for heat to build.

Last month, Marble Bar reached a sweltering 48.5 degrees on Boxing Day and 49.3 degrees the following day. The latter was its highest temperature on record for any month.

Now, Marble Bar is forecast to reach the mid to high forties every day this week and could get up to 48 degrees on the weekend. This may challenge the town's long-standing January temperature record of 49.2 degrees from 1922.

While temperatures nearing 50 degrees in Marble Bar may seem insignificant to the bulk of Australia's population that live in the nation's south and southeast, they shouldn't. Heat that builds in northern WA eventually filters down to southeastern Australia, causing those pesky summer heatwaves that many people dread.

This week's mass of hot air will start to spill into southern and southeastern Australia from Friday. With no strong cold fronts in the foreseeable future, this heat is likely to linger over much of southern Australia well into next week.

Image: Predicted surface temperatures for Sunday, January 13th according to the ECMWF HRES model.

The stagnant nature of next week's weather pattern is likely to produce a widespread heatwave in multiple states and territories, possibly affecting a few state capital cities at the same time. Be sure to prepare for the upcoming hot weather if you live in southern or southeastern Australia and are prone to being adversely affected by heatwaves.