Records melt away in historic heatwave
SIZZLING temperatures across the Far North this week brought an uncomfortable end to a January that will go down as the hottest month in Australian history.The monthly national average of 29.68C and average maximum of 36.92C surpassed previous highs set in 1932, figures from the weather bureau confirmed yesterday.
After a record-setting week in Cairns, the monthly average crept up to 32.7C, helping Queensland break its January record.
A Queensland Health spokeswoman said seven people presented to the Cairns Hospital with heat-related illnesses this week.
Four were treated for dehydration, one for heat rash and two for heatstroke.
Weather bureau forecaster Adam Woods said the record-setting heatwave came because of a "break period" in monsoon conditions.
Monday to Wednesday became the first three-day period in Cairns in which three January days hit more than 37C.
Tuesday's high of 38.6C was the hottest temperature recorded at Cairns Airport since it hit 40.5C in 1995.
Temperatures are expected to creep into the mid-30s again today and tomorrow before returning to "normal" next week.
"We'll see some of those cool southerly breezes so there might be some relief," Mr Woods said. "There might even be a few showers."
That is good news for Cairns solar panel installer Liam Dunne, who believes this month has been the "hottest and driest" in his 22 years on rooftops.
"It has just been exceptionally hot," Mr Dunne said. "This week especially.
"We were trying to get up earlier so we could escape the heat, but there wasn't much relief no matter when you got up.
"It was hot at 6am, but by lunchtime it was unbearable."
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Beat the heat: Kalina Winiarski, 5, and Seth Dunn, 7, don their best costumes to cool down at the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon yesterday. Picture: TOM LEE