What Happens When You Cross a Heatwave with a Perihelion?

Short answer is it gets very hot. Here’s the long answer.

A heatwave

Today it was hot in Victoria, very hot. Temperatures around Melbourne reached something like 41°C. Yes, very hot. The only place to be was the beach.

For example, Brighton Beach, which is in Melbourne Victoria…

Brighton BeachBut what is a heatwave?

  • A heatwave is three or more days of maximum AND minimum temperatures that are unusually high for the location and its climate history
  • High pressure systems force air downwards preventing the air from near the ground from rising
  • And the trapped air just gets hotter and hotter
  • Heatwaves can either be low-level, severe or extreme
  • Australia has a lot of heatwaves and they can be fatal

It may surprise many of you, especially the climate change fans, that Australia’s worst heatwave was in January 1939. That’s long before anybody had ever dreamt up any kind of carbon tax or thought it necessary. 438 people across Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales died in that heatwave.

A perihelion

So, what is a perihelion?

This one is simple, it’s when a planet, asteroid or comet is at its closest point to the sun, and that’s where the earth is right now.

hot sun

FreeImages.com/Christian Nielsen

Today in Brisbane it was 33°C which seemed like a relief after yesterday’s 37°C. Brisbane’s heat is more humid than it is further south, which is why we get fewer bushfires up here. The heat in Victoria, South Australia and parts of New South Wales can be a much drier and more punishing heat.

41°C that Melbourne had today is set to reach Sydney by Thursday. Adelaide can also expect 40°C temperatures, Perth 35°C.

Ambulance Victoria’s Paul Holman advised “No running, no going around the town. If you were going to do gardening, leave it until later. Do not leave your children in cars — no exceptions, no excuses.

Yes, how about that, no running!

In truth, when it’s as hot as this, it really isn’t the time to hit the beach. Not for me anyway, it’s way too hot.


  • Avoid direct sunlight
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Respect the heat, it can kill
  • Do not leave children or pets in the car

Children or pets locked in the car

This really is a golden rule in Australia. Never ever lock children or pets in a parked car. It doesn’t have to be really hot either, children have been known to die inside cars when outside temperatures are not much more than 20°C. Pets have been known to die in a locked car within 15 minutes or so. In conditions like these, no child or pet would stand a chance.

You might think you are just popping into the supermarket for five minutes to grab a loaf of bread, well, take your passengers with you.

I love the heat, but when it’s this hot, I like to stay indoors with the ceiling fans on, drinking plenty of water and with all the windows open.

Works for me.

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