Heatwave grips Queensland as Roma and Brisbane suffer an unending run of scorchers
Queensland cricketer Luke Davies, 15, wards off the heat at the under 15 national championships on the Sunshine Coast. (ABC News: Owen Jacques)
As flood-hit Townsville counts the cost, a 15-year-old boy inspires an army of volunteers
Severe heatwave conditions along the length of the Queensland coast have brought a record-breaking run of high temperatures to the southern inland town of Roma and unrelenting searing weather to Brisbane.
- Roma has recorded 82 straight days above 30C
- Hot weather to return to Brisbane next week after brief reprieve
- Townsville expected to reach 37C on Thursday
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is reporting a “low intensity” heatwave surrounding that severe zone and stretching from south of the Queensland border all the way to Cape York — conditions that were expected to persist into the weekend.
After a momentary reprieve this weekend, extreme temperatures are likely to continue into next week.
The heatwave is impacting the volunteer ‘mud army’ helping with the flood clean-up effort in Townsville.
Further south, Roma has recorded 82 consecutive days with maximum temperatures topping 30 degrees Celsius, breaking last year’s 58-day record.
Wednesday also marked Brisbane’s 35th straight day of 30C or more, with a top of 34.3C.
The mercury passed 42C in Emerald on Wednesday, while Gayndah (42.3C), Gatton (42.9C) and Ipswich (41.3C) all recorded temperatures over 40 degrees.
BOM forecaster Lauren Pattie said the hot air had come to coastal areas across the baking inland.
“There is a surface trough over the inland part of the state and behind that surface trough there is hot dry conditions,” she said.
“That is pushing dry air to the east.”
Roma paramedic John Nolan has been checking in on the town’s elderly residents.
“People in Roma and in the west are pretty well versed in these sort of conditions,” he said.
“We liaise with local health services and get our paramedics to check on our vulnerable clients and just give them some advice to stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, stay hydrated and put the air conditioner on.”
Heat prompts Townsville health warning
The soaring temperatures and humidity could prove dangerous for everyone involved in the north Queensland flood clean-up.
The BOM is predicting Townsville will hit 37C on Thursday, with 44 per cent humidity, prompting a health warning from the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS).
People cleaning up in Townsville are urged to take regular breaks and stay hydrated. (ABC News: Bruce Atkinson)
“There’s all these poor folks that are trying to get back into their homes and get themselves sorted, but what we say to them is just take regular breaks, keep yourself safe,” QAS clinical director Tony Hucker said.
“You want to get back into your house I understand that, but you do not want collapse in the pursuit of doing that.”
Ms Pattie said the heatwave would likely persist across much of Queensland until the weekend, when temperatures could finally dip below 30C in Brisbane.
“A cooler air mass is moving into that region tomorrow [Thursday], so temperatures will be getting closer to average by the time we get into Saturday.
But the relief will be short-lived — temperatures are expected to climb again early next week.
Heat worsens problems from stock loss
With AgForce estimating 500,000 head of cattle have perished in north-western Queensland from the extensive inland flood, graziers now face the pervasive stench from rotting flesh as daytime temperatures top 40C.
But in many places, the ground remains too boggy to start burying the dead livestock.
The heat is making matters worse for graziers who have suffered horrific stock losses. (Supplied)
Cloncurry vet Trevor Smith said the carcasses will decompose quickly in the heat.
“Where possible people will try bury them, but at this stage it is still too wet for that,” he said.
“It is very unpleasant, there is certainly a lot of gasses building up and when they are released the smell is terrible, but essentially there is not too much that can be done about that at present.”
Biosecurity Queensland said graziers should avoid touching cattle carcasses.
“Carcasses should be handled as little as possible, with the use of machinery such as excavators or backhoes the preferred method if the situation allows,” a spokesman said in a statement.
The BOM’s heatwave service shows a low to locally severe heatwave over the next few days, with central Queensland to feel the worst of it.
Chris Spencer from the Rural Fire Service said they have suspended all fire permits in the Central Highlands and Coalfields, and is asking farmers to remain vigilant to avoid a fire disaster like the area saw late last year.
“We’ve got 42 degrees forecast today, 9 per cent humidity and south westerly winds could gust up to 25 kilometres per hour, which is obviously a concern for us,” he said.
Young cricketers battling dehydration
Cricket Australia’s under-15 National Championships being played out on the Sunshine Coast, but official Graham Manou said they have been forced to shorten play because of the heat.
“At the age of 14 [the ability] to regulate body temperature is not as good as what we can do as adults. There have been some issues across the week,” he said.
“We have seen some boys struggle with some dehydration … out there in the pads and helmets and things can be quite demanding particularly when you are doing it day on, day off, which these boys aren’t used to.”
Queenslander Luke Davies, 15, said the heat gave his team a competitive edge that helped them win their match against Tasmania.
“They looked like they were struggling out there a little bit, I mean they aren’t used to the heat as much as we are, so it would be more unbearable for them. I feel sorry for them,” he said.