Melbourne Meltdown  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

The Age reports that Melbourne has been quite warm this week (though not as warm as Adelaide) - As train tracks melted and trees wilted, we all went a little bit troppo.

SO, HOW'S your week been? Hot enough? The ancient Egyptians worshipped the sun, but Melbourne, and beyond, this week was like some kind of mad punishment from above.

Cold showers, suddenly, were good, not evil. At suburban public pools those arriving after work — or after dinner — tended to wander dumbstruck and zombied to plop in feet-first like lemmings.

Lifesavers were on duty at beaches after dark. By Wednesday night the crowded St Kilda foreshore resembled the Ganges at Varanasi. Overnight on Thursday a small tent city sprang up just past Brighton.

It was the intense heat that did it. People found all sorts of ways to cope. Yesterday it reached 45 degrees about 4pm — before quickly cooling down within an hour, the heatwave over. But last night the chaos continued, with further power cuts and train cancellations.

The week has been our hottest known. It was the first time since records began in 1855 that there had been three consecutive days above 43 degrees.

The extreme heat has caused bushfires, chaos on the trains, power outages and possibly contributed to a particularly horrible crime.
Power outages caused by an explosion at an electrical substation wreaked havoc across heatwave-stricken Victoria last night.

All Melbourne train services were cancelled and about 500,000 homes and businesses were left without electricity in the city's west, some parts of the CBD and western Victoria.

Full power with back-up services won't be restored until the end of the weekend, when two transmission lines are repaired, although most people affected had power again by midnight.

Victorians should brace themselves for more power blackouts as bushfires and the worst heatwave in recorded history threaten power supplies and equipment, a state government spokesman told AAP. ...

CHAOS descended on the rail network last night, capping one of the most disastrous weeks on Melbourne's trains in decades. The rail system's operator, Connex, cancelled more than a quarter of all services, with at least 500 of the day's 2000 scheduled services not running.

Many lines — and, at one point, the City Loop — were shut down mid-afternoon because of train breakdowns, lines buckling in the blistering heat, or power blackouts. Buses were not provided in some cases, leaving people without any means of getting home.

The Opposition demanded that Premier John Brumby explain why at least 1300 train services were cancelled this week.

While its tempting to blame the latest heat wave in southern Australia on global warming, it doesn't make sense to point to individual weather events as evidence of long term trends - however we could look at the chaos caused and realise that this type of event will become more frequent as the planet warms (due partially to the Victorians' bad habit of burning brown coal - the worst emitter of all).
Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said the record heat is yet another sign of global climate change scientists have forecasted.

"Eleven of the hottest years in history have been in the last 12, and we also note, particularly in the southern part of Australia, we're seeing less rainfall," Wong told reporters.

"All of this is consistent with climate change, and all of this is consistent with what scientists told us would happen."

The heat wave began on Wednesday, but the Bureau of Meteorology expects the region will see six days of record temperatures, making this the worst heat wave in a century.

Australia is one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change due to its hot, dry climate and is already gripped by drought. Fire bans have been declared in southern Australia to prevent major bushfires but small fires are already burning, according to Reuters.

Australia’s larger cities were among the most burdened regions, Melbourne, for instance recorded its hottest day in 70 years at 111 on Thursday. Robert Doyle, the city’s mayor called for an increase in water due to a 40 percent drop in soil moisture.

"The signs are there that our precious trees are struggling in this brutal weather," Doyle told Reuters. "Our parks staff have indicated a number of trees are defoliating and canopies are thinning. Once defoliation takes place it is very hard to save the tree," he said.

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