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However, we will hope for the best and — roast meanwhile.
: “The thought of famine in Australia seems quaint, from a 20th century perspective.
I went hunting through our wonderful historic Trove archive of old newspaper records.
It doesn’t help us make any accurate comparisons, or even tell us about annual averages, but there is a remarkable story of exceptional heat and dryness in January 1877 that few Australians know.
The SMH “The weather has of late been somewhat,warm, in fact on Tuesday last I may say it was hot, considering the thermometer stood 114 in the shade.
A southerly-burster set in about 10 o’clock at night, but the houses of our citizens were so intensely heated that even this wind did not cool them, and consequently but little sleep could be obtained during that night. — “The weather since my last has been exceedingly hot, Fahrenheit registering as high as 108 degrees in the shade.
A meeting has been held for the purpose, of’ sinking wells on the river bank, to obtain water for the inhabitants. It was on these days that the temperature went to extremes.
The raw data at Nobby’s near Newcastle (graphed below) shows monster heat in 1878, 1879, and 1883 — far hotter than modern times.
Its unlikely that it was recorded with modern equipment, so it’s hard to compare. We don’t know when the Stevenson screen was installed.
When soils are dry they gain heat faster because there is less evaporative cooling, and less humidity in the air. January 1878 was described as “intensely hot” in many places, with temperatures recorded “in the shade” at Walgett of 120F, Coonamble, 113F, Sydney 114F and at Hay 117F.
Later in January it reach 119 at Gunndah, and 129F at Coonamble. The grass which sprang since last thunderstorms has been quite burned up. The Riverine Grazier (Hay, NSW : 1873 – 1954) Saturday 12 January 1878 “The heat is now the current topic at Hay.
On Thursday the glass indicated 117 degrees of heat in the fair shade, on a wall on which the sun never shines at noon ; in the sun the glass indicated 154 degrees.