Media manipulating 'historic' temperature figures with incomplete data

I want to make comments on the ABC Headline yesterday which is still up today - The Hottest Temperature  ever recorded in Australia. It goes like this -  "Australia could see Hottest Day on Record next week as Perth Heatwave conditions travel east".

This headline is totally misleading as, and its a shame, as the BOM and CSIRO both do not officially acknowledge any temperature records before the 1900s.   In fact there were regular records kept in various city and country locations in Australia from the 1850s (and even earlier) but they are not now recorded as "Official" as the BOM was not there.   Therefore these records do not exist "officially". So why are the hottest days from before 1900 not used in weather records??  History is rewritten !

QUOTE:  "The BOM was established in 1906 under the Meteorology Act, and brought together the state meteorological services that existed before then. The states officially transferred their weather recording responsibilities to the Bureau of Meteorology on 1 January 1908 -  nearly 120 years after William Dawes built his famous observatory at Sydney Cove."  This was the first to record in Sydney weather records.

ABC HEADLINE:  Australia Could See Hottest Day on Record next week as Perth Heatwave conditions travel East,  By Irena Ceranic,  Updated December 13, 2019.

ABC llink

"We're expecting some incredibly warm conditions as we head into next week, potentially record-breaking for a number of areas across southern Australia over the next seven days or so," BOM meteorologist Diana Eadie said.    "It is not out of the realms of possibility that we could break our highest ever recorded temperature of 50.7C at Oodnadatta, which is in South Australia."  That record was set on January 2, 1960.   Ms Eadie said there was also a chance Australia could record its hottest day as a whole towards the end of the week."


Here are some of the higher temperature records from before 1906 -


Extreme Heat in 1896: Panic Stricken People fled the Outback on Special Trains as Hundreds Die.



It's as if history has been erased...  

In January 1896 a savage blast "like a furnace" stretched across Australia from east to west and lasted for weeks. The death toll reached 437 people in the eastern states. Newspaper reports showed that in Bourke the heat approached 120°F (48.9°C) on three days.  The maximum at or above 102 degrees F (38.9°C) for 24 days straight.


How Widespread was the Heat in 1896?

Please note: As well as the caveats mentioned above, the dates given below may be inaccurate and the modern Australian definition of a heatwave  may not have been met in all locations.

It was this Widespread.....

Yalgoo W.A. Dec 25 1895, 122° or 127° F  (52.8 C) "the Emerald Hotel, an iron structure" or at the Court House " The latter structure is a " wooden frame with duck covering.";

Marra station N.S.W. 130 F (54.4 C) on Jan 21. The link shows a full months record. "The figures were the readings of three different glasses, which were hung in the front verandah at the Marra, station, and were placed out from the wall on a frame to allow the air to get round them, thereby preventing the heat from the wall affecting the instruments.";

Berlino  S.A. 130° F  (54.4 C) Jan 22. The thermometer "hangs on a stone house with a thickly thatched verandah facing West" Š "never reached by the sun".

From Jan 5 -Jan 13, Berlino recorded many temperatures of 118° - 130° F;

Kopperamanna Bore, via Hergott Springs S.A. "under date of January 23 : - 'For the last month the heat here has been excessive. The lowest the glass has registered in the shade, a good canegrass shed, has been 108°. On three different days it showed 118° F (47.8 C) , and three times 116°F, the average for the last month having been 113°.";

Cockburn S.A. 122° F (50.0 C)   Jan 25 (but measured in the general store); Near Cobar at Paddington station around the same "days it rose to 120 deg. and 123 deg., on a cool verandah, It seems almost incredible, but one night we looked to see what it was at 11 o'clock, and it registered 106 deg.".

Geraldton W.A. Friday, 3 Jan - 125° F (51.7 C) most papers, 115° F in some (possibly a date error as it matches the previous day).

Ungarie N.S.W. 6 Jan - 125° F (51.7 C) "rural districts do not always recognise the nice distinctions between true shade and other shade."

Camden N.S.W.  Tues, 14 Jan - 123°F (50.6 C ) "Great Heat Wave " "LIST OF CASUALTIES."

Brewarrina N.S.W 17 Jan - 122° F (50.0 C) "125 deaths attributable to heat apoplexy" (Sydney).

Charleville or Cunnamulla QLD. 22 Jan - 120.5 ° F (49.6 C) (116 °F official ) "The average daily temperature from the 1st instant exceeded 114 degrees." 25 days!!

Mildura Vic 23 Jan - 120° F ( 48.9 C) "PHENOMENAL HEAT IN VICTORIA."

You can see there were temperatures recorded above 50 deg C in at least eight locations pre-1900 ~ these records are not used today, in fact its hard to find those records of the worst HEATWAVE in Australia's history. You have to search. Not many people seem to know about it and certainly the ABC and the BOM do not acknowledge it , and do not publicise it.  Errrrr, Why?


By Richard Giles
(Source:; December 13, 2019;
Back to INF

Loading please wait...