As Chicago today goes through its record 321st day without a 25 mm snowfall on its way to 13°C temperatures this weekend, we can take some comfort knowing that this summer's weather in Australia has been unimaginably worse:
Heat is part of the national mythology. It killed some of the country’s first white explorers, and has sparked many devastating fires. The worst, “Black Saturday” in Victoria, killed 173 people four years ago. Thanks to better preparation, firefighting skills and a good dose of luck, fires raging in four states in the latest heatwave have spared humans. Yet Australia is getting ever hotter. The 2013 heatwave has set a new record, 40.3°C, for the highest national average temperature. So far, Leonora, a town in Western Australia, has been the hottest place of all, at 49°C on January 9th. That is still below the highest temperature ever recorded in Australia, 50.7°C at Oodnadatta 53 years ago.
The punchline: the Australian weather service has added colors to its map to account for the heat:
The scorching conditions are set to continue into the coming week and prompted the national Bureau of Meteorology to take the extraordinary measure of revamping its weather charts. New colours have been added to forecasting maps — deep purple and pink — to mark out areas experiencing peaks above 50°C.
The colours have come in for immediate use, with large purple blotches appearing on the weather map for next Sunday and Monday. Temperatures in parts of the state of South Australia are tipped to exceed 50°C.
But hey, New Zealand looks perfectly comfortable on that map...