In the second week of January 2014, the extreme heat in Western Australia that saw record breaking temperatures of up to 48 °C, moved eastwards into South Australia and Victoria.
It was the first heatwave to be classified under the Bureau of Meteorology’s new modelling system of Heatwave, Severe Heatwave and Extreme Heatwave.
During the next two weeks, both states experienced the numerous effects of extreme heat. In South Australia, 13-17 January recorded the first ever five-day period above 42 °C, the hottest maximum five-day average temperature of 43.6 °C. On 16 January, Adelaide was the hottest city in the world, at 46 °C. In the same period, Victoria recorded its first ever four-day period above 41°C and its hottest four-day average maximum temperature at 43.1 °C.
The Bureau of Meteorology released a Special Climate Statement for the period from 13 to 18 January and stated that the heatwave was more notable for persistent heat than individual extreme hot days.
Heat-related power outages affected approximately 35,000 people in Victoria during the evening of 14 January, while about 5000 South Australian residents were temporarily without electricity.
The heatwave resulted in 275 people being admitted to South Australian hospitals for heat-related conditions. In metropolitan Melbourne, 8359 ambulances were dispatched between 12 and 18 January, and 621 people presented to emergency departments with heat-related symptoms. More than 1000 spectators required treatment for heat exhaustion at the Australian Open, which was held from 13 to 26 January. The Department of Health recorded 167 deaths in excess of the average expected between 12 and 18 January. The City of Melbourne estimated the heatwave cost businesses in the municipality approximately $37 million in lost revenue.
On 21 January, 80 cows died due to heat stress in Victoria’s Gippsland region. More than 90 flying foxes were found dead in Adelaide’s Botanic Park, following the death of 100,000 bats in a Queensland heatwave during the first week of January.
Other states affected by the 13 to 18 January heatwave were the western half of Tasmania and around and to the west of the New South Wales Snowy Mountain region.
More information will be provided as it becomes available.