'A step beyond': Australian suburb singled out over 'unprecedented' weather

·News Reporter
·3-min read

A suburb in Sydney’s west has been singled out in a global climate report flagging 2020 as one of the hottest years on record.

Penrith reached a sweltering 48.9 degrees Celsius on January 4 – the hottest temperature recorded in Australia this year, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).

It was on the back of Australia recording its hottest year to date in 2019 and amid a summer of horrific bushfires.

The suburb’s blistering heat, which includes most recently a 38.5 degree day on December 1, hasn’t gone unnoticed by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) which cited the suburb as proof “Australia broke heat records” in 2020.

The WMO, a specialised agency of the United Nations, says the 48.9 degrees in Penrith on January 4 was the highest observed temperature on record in an Australian metropolitan area.

People seen on the sand during heatwave conditions at Bondi Beach in Sydney.
People enjoy Bondi Beach during hot weather last month. Source: AAP

Penrith ‘a step beyond’

The WMO’s provisional report on the State of the Global Climate in 2020 said climate change continued “its relentless march” this year with 2020 on track to be one of the three warmest years on record.

Dr Ailie Gallant, of Monash University’s Climate Change Communication Research Hub, told news.com.au the heat in January in Penrith coincided with severe bushfires in western parts of Sydney.

“It’s not unusual to get very hot in Penrith, but what we’re experiencing now is unprecedented,” she said.

“It’s a step beyond.”

People escape 40-degree heat at a popular swimming hole on the Nepean River at Penrith in Western Sydney.
People cool off in the Nepean River at Penrith. The suburb hit 48.9 degrees in January. Source: AAP

Temperatures rising

WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said average global temperature in 2020 was set to be about 1.2 above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level.

“There is at least a one in five chance of it temporarily exceeding 1.5 by 2024,” Prof Taalas said.

November, in particular, was a hot month in Australia.

The moon sets behind the Sydney Tower.
The moon seen behind Sydney Tower on December 1 for the first day of summer. Source: Getty Images

The Climate Change Communication Research Hub at Monash University in Melbourne looked through the BoM’s climate data and determined 57 towns had their hottest November days on record.

Rainfall was also below average, according to BoM.

It has forecast Australia could yet receive its most rain in a decade in the upcoming months due to La Nina.

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