Sunday, January 8, 2012

Extreme weather misinformation at the ABC

ABC NEWS WATCH enjoyed the new year from the comfort of a pool side lounge chair in a distant land positioned just above the equator, so we missed the "Extreme heat in southern Australia" that the ABC AM reported on the 3rd of January. Just as well as AM's Peter Cave reported the story in the following manner:
"South Australia is sweltering with the hottest start to the year in more than a century."  Glad I was sipping cool beer elsewhere. That must have been some heatwave (though based on the evidence some would have just called it summer)!

So hottest since at least 1912? Let's test the validity of that claim (made by the ABC); mindful that just one observation is all that is needed to disprove the claim.

Start the clock:
1. open Google
2. type "Heatwaves in South Australia"
3. follow the first link to the Bureau of Meteorology page of the same heading.
4. Read the page (reprinted below)
5. Claim debunked. 
Time taken: about 2 minutes.

Heatwaves in South Australia

Temperatures above 40°C are common in the north of South Australia 
in summer, but rarely for such a prolonged period as in the first half 
of January 1979. The heatwave began on 31 December, and up until 
15 January, maximum temperatures of at least 45°C were a daily 
occurrence in the north of the state, at places such as Marree and 
Further north, at Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, the temperature 
exceeded 40°C on 12 days, but did not go higher than 42°C, in part 
because of the town's elevation (546m). The extreme heat reached 
further south on several days: at Port Augusta the mercury topped 44°C 
on 6 days, and at Broken Hill in NSW on 7 days. Adelaide did not have 
many days of extreme heat, but 42°C on 3 January was the highest 
temperature for 11 years.
Livestock and wild animals suffered. Kangaroos were found dead, and 
100 cattle died on a train at Marree, despite the efforts of railway staff 
to offload them (Around 1979 it was usual for 10 to 20 animals to die during 
transport in hot weather). Hundreds of dead birds, including crows and 
parrots, were found. A goods train was derailed at Immarna on the trans-
continental line, probably because the rails buckled in the heat.
A similar heatwave in January 1960 was not so sustained, because cool 
changes brought relief, but temperatures exceeded 45°C in the north of the 
State from 31 December to 3 January. On 2 January, Oodnadatta reached 
a state record - and arguably an Australian record - of 50.7°C. The 
minimum that day was 34.6°C. The temperature again reached the low 40s on 
6-8 January, and on the 10th.
There were several deaths in the 1960 heat wave: five babies and eight 
dults died, including five found dead beside an outback road. Other victims 
were admitted to hospital with heat exhaustion, including 18 in Broken Hill. 
However hospitals would have provided little relief, because few were 
air-conditioned at that time.

The highest temperature recorded in the 2012 "heatwave" at Adelaide Airport (BOM station ID 23034):
31 December 2011: 34.6
1 January 2012: 39.8
2 January 2012: 39.7
3 January 2012: 31.5

That ABC claim again: "South Australia is sweltering with the hottest start to the year in more than a century." Seems there will be no halt to the climate mis-information this year.

See Also
Warwick Hughes looks at other weather mis-information being spruiked by our national news service in his  post: Lies and misinformation on ABC news about heat waves

Ian Hill also covers the Adelaide "heatwave" at Jo Nova's site finding: There have only been 78 other heatwaves like that in Adelaide… and 51 were hotter

H/T to Warwick


  1. disHonesty and propaganda? surely not on our ABC

  2. It would be safe to say that their presenters are somewhat tetchy when it comes to any criticism of their output as well!

    But then, we continue to contribute (unwillingly in my case) to their very secretive salary regime through our taxes.

    Everyone's ABC?! May have been decades ago. Certainly isn't now.


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