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Birdsville breaks Queensland record for hottest January day with 49.4C temperature


An outback town has recorded Queensland’s hottest January day of all time and cemented its ranking as one of the top four warmest locations in Australia.

Birdsville residents watched the mercury hit 49.4 degrees Celsius at 2:30pm on Thursday, surpassing the town’s and the state’s previous January heat record of 49C.

The town also recorded its hottest-ever overnight temperature, when the mercury failed to fall below 35.2C on Tuesday night.

Christie Johnson from the Bureau of Meteorology said a vast, warm air mass had been moving across Australia over the last couple of days.

“It was affecting a large area from Western Australia to South Australia and into south-west Queensland,” she said.

“Now it is contracting more into Queensland.”

Senior Sergeant Adam Johnson says a trip outside is like standing in front of an open oven.(Supplied: Adam Johnson)

‘Slap in the face’

Birdsville Police Senior Constable Adam Johnson, who moved to the town a week ago, said he had never experienced such intense weather.

“It’s absolutely a slap in the face,” he said.

“It takes your breath away the first few times that you breathe in and it just soaks into your body, even after being outside for just a minute or two.

“It’s … like opening an oven door and standing in front of it.”

The landscape surrounding Birdsville can be unforgiving.(Supplied: Adam Johnson)

But Senior Constable Johnson said the locals were “pretty switched on” when it came to dealing with the conditions.

“Everybody stays home during the hottest parts of the day,” he said.

Don Rowlands says conditions in Birdsville have been getting more intense over the years.(ABC Western Queensland: Maddelin McCosker)

‘It’s getting worse’

Wangkangurru Yarluyandi Elder Don Rowlands, who has lived in the area for more than 70 years, says he is concerned by the way conditions are trending.

“It’s getting worse and worse,” he said.

“I’ve seen crows fall out trees.

“They’ve been here longer than me, but they can’t handle the heat either.”

Birdsville’s record January day was preceded by a savagely hot night earlier this week.(ABC Western Queensland: Maddelin McCosker)

Mr Rowlands was concerned about vulnerable residents and urged anyone travelling in the region to take it easy and sit tight if they were not equipped to handle the intense heat.

“Please stay off the road and wait until the temperature cools,” he said.

Residents have adapted to the scorching conditions in Birdsville.(Supplied: Charlotte Kato)

Cool change on the way

Cyclone Kirrily is moving across Queensland coast and the system is predicted to bring a cool change to the far west and north-west.

Temperatures should drop into the low 40s over the weekend and showers are on the cards for Birdsville early next week, according to the BOM.

Oodnadatta in South Australia and Onslow in Western Australia have both recorded the hottest national temperature of 50.7C.

Birdsville is the fourth hottest place in Australia behind Wilcannia, New South Wales, which holds a record of 50.1C.



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