Outback town swelters through week of 45+C
It’s been an interesting week and there is every indication that it is not over yet. South Australia has been spared much of the fire crisis and only one major fire and that is now under control. There are reports of a fire to the west of us but nothing definite yet. Our firefighters are still on standby and we are sending relief fire crews and some fire machines across the border into Victoria to assist and give some welcome rest and relief to the crews over there. The hardest hit state is New South Wales with over 100 fires burning and fighters stretched to the limit. Not a lot being done in the garden and the dogs are just flat out inside.
Police have arrested three arsonists who they believe are responsible for starting one of the bush fires. I personally think this should be classed as domestic terrorism, but I have no doubt that there are those who have softer hearts ” they are ill people who need attention, not punishment – I mean they didn’t mean to kill 4000 cattle, 7 dogs and 32 people”. – Sorry, I just don’t buy that! Yes, by all means give them medical attention – but in the prison hospital over the next 15 years.
Since I started writing this the temperature here has gone down to 28c but it will go back to 37c tomorrow and building up over the next few days. There are over 130 homes destroyed in Tasmania and 100 people still unaccounted for. Hopefully alive and well, somewhere, but unaccounted for at the moment. The dogs have enjoyed walks in the cool of the evening and in the early morning. Much of the day they have been inside, but as the temperature cooled they spent more time outside. They like to wander through the back yard and find places to hide as well as shade under the trees. I have two dogs, three dog houses, three raised beds and six padded beds. I have a dog house in the garage and when I am working in there the little man generally takes up residence in that one. Also the door does not close properly so he can squeeze through and go into that bed when he just wants peace and quiet away from everyone – but then, isn’t that what a garage/workshop is for??
Went out a short while ago and checked the thermometer under the shade area and found that the temperature is over 50c. Well, the unit only goes up to 50c and the mercury is over that. After that I decided that I would sit down and have a read in the coolest part of the house – the laundry, where the dogs are. I went in there with the dogs, took a cushion and plonked myself down beside them. The Air Conditioner is not coping too well, despite the place being closed up and the awnings down. It is cooler inside than out, certainly, but no where as cool as it should be. The official State Government website says 47.9c. I have half a mind to move the desk into the laundry with the dogs because the ceramic tiles are cool and they are more comfortable than I am.
According to the news we have broken a long standing record. Up until today our highest ever temperature was 45.8 now the new high record is the same as the State Government Web Site – 47.9 – so the 50c on my outdoor thermometer is fairly conservative. We move 80 Klms South East of here and we have a temperature of 48c – another new record.
Ok, so that was yesterday, which topped off several days of searing heat ending in new records across the state. Today, after a record 47.9 the temperature has crashed to a forecasted 26c – currently it is 21.6. This morning at 7:15 I took the dogs out and were they glad to be “free” for a while – well “free” as in they are on 15 foot extendable leads. They were – like me – just so glad to get out again. It was just too hot to take them out these last few days. I think they missed ” checking the mailboxes” I know animals have a greater sense of smell then we do, but how a dog can stand sniffing a blade of grass, or part of a bush for ten minutes, is a puzzle. Still, 21.6 – seriously thought about a pullover to keep me warm :o)
Over 85 properties destroyed and one life lost as fires rage out of control in Tasmania – out of control fires in Victoria and one major fire burning out of control some 80 klms south-east of Adelaide. Nothing up here, which is something to be thankful for.
As expected, many of my plants have died. I did water them every night after the sun went down, but the heat of the day still burned them up, which adds to my comment about ” Full Sun” – that may well be, but not for this little corner of the world. – and before I water the plants at night I have to let it run for a bit before I do because the water is hot for the first few minutes. The long range forecast is for very high temperatures starting again in the next day or so, but in the meantime, I will enjoy being outside, but again, because of the North Wind, I need to redo all my work and sweep up again. Still, if it were not for the trees I am certain that the places would be a lot hotter.
Thousands of Firefighters are being placed on standby as the temperature soars to 44c and above. To add to the problem, we have a North Wind, which is helping to dry everything out. We are not, officially, in a heatwave – yet. A heatwave is defined as five consecutive days when the temperature is above 35c. So, if you have, 36,36,42.35,31 – then it’s not a heatwave and if the 6th day soars to 44c., then that’s the start of another five day cycle. What you have to remember is that 44c is the “Official” temperature. It is not ground temperature and it is not what the sun is beating down on your wee head. The official temperature is taken in a shaded area not in the direct heat of the sun – like your head. The dogs are sleeping inside and I have renewed the bowl of water I have at the end of the drive. In weather like this – when I am home_ I change the water every couple hours to stop it getting hot. This is for dogs, or indeed, any thirsty animal to drink from. The birdbath has a slight leak and needs to be replaced/ repaired. It has been empty and I was intending to do the repairs soon – however, I have filled that with water also at least the birds can cool down, if needed. The Weather Bureau has warned that we are on track for temperatures above 40c for the next seven days. All the more reason why anyone with a lick of sense should have at least 6 litres of water in the boot (trunk) (for the radiator) and enough water for drinking. Today was 41c, and tomorrow will be 46c – official temperatures so I expect the dogs will be inside all of tomorrow. Actually, unless I have to go out I think I will be inside for most of tomorrow.
The State of South Australia covers some 983,482 sq.klm. It’s bigger than Texas but with a total population only marginally greater than Phoenix, I suppose we do have a lot of environment. To the west of me – the town of Cowell some 115 klms away -the photograph is in the general direction of Cowell and there is nothing in between except the general assortment of Australian wildlife. Like many places in the USA South Australia punishes people who do not take the environment seriously – they die in the harsh, hot conditions of outback SA. There was three travellers died only a few weeks ago when the car they were driving in broke down and they decided that it was only twenty miles to the nearest settlement, so they could walk there for help in a 45c temperature. They became lost and didn’t make it and their bodies were recovered only after a massive police and ranger search. If you treat it with disrespect and are unprepared for the worst that could happen, the far north of South Australia can be very unforgiving. Even driving between here and Adelaide, I carry 2 x 3 litre water containers in the boot (trunk) and I always have drinking water with me in the car. When I take the dogs out during the summer months – in the morning before the heat and in the evening when it’s little cooler,, I generally have a small backpack with a bottle of water and a bowl.
The South Australian Dog Rescue ended the year fairly well and 400 dogs have been saved from the pound and have gone to new furever homes. I have been involved in ten of those, which I have taken from here the 400 klms to the State Capital and their new owners. I hope to be heading that way sometime next week, once this heatwave breaks. At the moment it is 35c but this is expected to rise and to mid 40+c over the next few days and into the start of next week with a cool change coming mid-week.
In the garden it has generally been a tidy up and keep up the watering to what plants have survived the heat of the other week. I have not been able to replace them because it is New Year and most places are closed until today, so I will probably get over to the Garden shop during the course of the day and have a look at what I think might survive. As I said before I have doubts about labels that say “Full Sun”