Australia Goes Deep PurpleIt's official, 2012 was a record year for heat in the US, and 2013 is already turning out to be historic for Australia, a country that is used to extreme heat, but nothing quite like what they're getting now. A "dome of heat" has settled over the country and caused record breaking temperatures; so much so that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology actually had to add a new color to its weather maps to show the hottest parts of the country (it's purple, as you can see above). This extends the range up to 54 degrees celsius (129.2 fahrenheit)! This is significantly above the all-time record temperature of 50.7 degrees celsius reached on January 2, 1960 at Oodnadatta Airport in South Australia.
This second map is the forecast for January 17th, 2013. As you can see, the purple spot is predicted to go away, but the temperatures are still extremely elevated (remember these are celsius degrees, so Fahrenheit, the darker spots are forecast to get around 115F).
The Sydney Morning Herald describes the records that have been broken so far and those that could fall:
And the country has set a new national average maximum of 40.33 degrees on Monday, beating the previous record - set on December 21, 1972 - by a "sizeable margin" of 0.16 degrees, Dr Jones said, adding that the figures are preliminary.
"Today is actually shaping up to be hotter - and it could be a record by a similar margin," he said.
Another record to be smashed on Monday was Australia's mean temperature. The country averaged 32.23, easily eclipsing the previous record - set on December 21, 1972 - of 31.86 degrees. Just 0.13 degrees separated the previous four highest mean temperatures, underscoring how far above average the day was.
The scorching temperatures could last into the weekend and beyond, Dr Jones said, potentially breaking the country's all-time high of 50.7 degrees.
It's not clear when the "dome of heat" will subside, but this could be a preview of the kind of extreme weather events that climate change could bring us with increasing frequency.