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    Recent Events

    Heatwaves, Bushfires and Dust Storms
    Wednesday, 23 October 2002

    The last five days have brought out the worst, but also the most interesting weather phenomena's. Last Saturday (19th) a heatwave hit the Hunter bringing with it low humidity, strong WNW winds and high temps. The temperatures recorded across the region were the highest since October 1988. Temperatures were 38C or higher at many stations (see table below). The low humidity combined with the current dry spell and strong winds made the fire hazard extreme. As a result fires broke out around the Cessnock area, claiming one life and destroying 13 homes at Abernathy.  Bushfires continued to burn on and off throughout the last few days. Because the relative humidity has been so low, the temperature variations have been more then 30C from the night to the day. These large temperature variations have been close to a record.


    Despite the high temperatures recorded on Sunday, no records were broken at stations with more then 20 years of data. Cessnock (Nulkaba) recorded the highest temperature in the Hunter of 39.1C. This temperature was 1 below its October record.


    Today there was a thick blanket of dust that was carried by the strong WNW winds in the lower and middle levels of the atmosphere, leaving many parts of the Hunter covered in an orange tinge. The dust started to roll in mid morning and by noon some places had a visibility of less then 1 km. The dust storm, which originated in the arid regions, travelled eastwards from the central parts of the Continent on a 1500 km front. Many areas from the South Coast of NSW to Mackay in Queensland got hit by the thick red dust. The dust storm itself was visible by satellite and it was possibly the biggest dust storm to occur on the Australian continent for 20 years.

    Maximum Temperatures (C) across the Hunter for the 19 October 2002
    Cessnock (Nulkaba) 39.1
    Gosford AWS 36.3
    Jerrys Plains Post Office 38.7
    Lostock Dam 37.0
    Maitland 38.0
    Murrurundi Post Office 36.0
    Newcastle Uni 37.9
    Paterson (Tocal) 39.0
    Scone Airport 38.1
    Williamtown 38.6

    All data provided by the Bureau of Meteorology


    Thursday, 25 April 2024
    © 2024 Tim Grugeon