Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology

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Community heat preparedness key to reduced impact


The South Australian community experienced less impact than might have been expected despite last week's unprecedented heat. That's the conclusion of an interagency review today between the Bureau of Meteorology, the State Emergency Service and SA Health.

"The South Australian community deserve a pat on the back for how well they heeded the safety messages ahead of impending heatwaves and extreme heat," Bureau of Meteorology South Australia State Manager, John Nairn said.

Heatwaves are not uncommon during summer, however, last week's unprecedented heat saw 38 records being broken across South Australia, and an additional three records being equaled.

"Responding to heatwaves require a whole of community response and all South Australians have a part to play by taking warnings seriously, minimising exposure to the heat and sun, keeping themselves hydrated and cool, and checking on vulnerable family, friends and neighbours," SES Chief Officer, Chris Beattie said.

"While last week's record breaking temperatures were extraordinary, the impacts were short-lived."

Community impacts included:

  • SA Ambulance Service attended 224 heat related cases and there was a total of 152 heat-related presentations to Emergency Departments throughout the three day heatwave last week. Of the 152 heat-related presentations, 53 people were admitted to hospital for further treatment
  • Damage to power infrastructure from exposure to load and heat resulted in 59 blackouts and around 25,000 properties being without electricity on Thursday night
  • Impacts on the transport network included delays to some trams and trains, temporary failure of the Metrocard system and bitumen melting in some locations
  • The Telecross REDi service was activated with over 1600 calls made to vulnerable clients. Of note there were 128 escalations and three ambulance call-outs and subsequent hospitalisations
  • The state’s Code Red protocol was activated providing additional options for shelter for people who are homeless.

Today the Bureau of Meteorology also released the January Climate Summary which revealed South Australia had its warmest January on record for maximum temperature and fourth-warmest January on record for mean minimum temperature. The month also saw Adelaide break a significant record.

"Adelaide sweltered through the city's hottest day on record on Thursday 24 January, 2019. That was after an overnight minimum of 31°, before the mercury soared quickly to 42° at midday then peaked at 46.6° at 3.35pm. The sustained heat remained into the evening, lowering only marginally to 45° at 7pm," Mr Nairn said.

"South Australian will continue to face the risk of heatwaves into the future," Mr Beattie said, "and we ask the community to be as well prepared in the future as they were in January.