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Sydney Just Had Its Hottest Night Ever, And Everybody Is Really Grumpy

Be nice to Sydney people today. You have been warned.

18/01/2017 8:09 AM AEDT | Updated 18/01/2017 2:24 PM AEDT

We'll get to the weather in a tick, but first, the grumpy forecast:

DO NOT TALK TO ANYONE FROM SYDNEY TODAY. THEY WILL SNAP BACK AT YOU BECAUSE NO ONE IN SYDNEY GOT A WINK OF SLEEP ON TUESDAY NIGHT BECAUSE IT WAS SO DAMNED HOT. UGH AND DOUBLE UGH!

Sydney had its hottest night ever night on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. As in, ever, ever. The overnight minimum in the city? A positively sweltering, sheet-drenching 28.8 degrees around 2am.

Sydney's record high minimum was 27.6 degrees on February 6, 2011. The record high January minimum was 26.2 on January 8, 1994.

Despite the fact that Sydney really did just have its hottest night ever, the old records will still stand, and here's why.

  • The Bureau calculates its official "minimum" on 24 hours of data, from 9am to 9am.
  • On Tuesday morning just after 9am it was 25.1 degrees.
  • So even though it never got below 28 degrees on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning -- which made it the hottest NIGHT ever -- a lower temperature was recorded in the 24 hour period.
  • Which is all a bit technical but there you have it.

And that 28.8 degree "minimum" at around 2am was only the briefest of blips. Immediately afterwards, it started getting warmer again, right in the wee small hours when it usually keeps cooling off. By 4am, Sydney was already up to 30.4 degrees.

By 7:30 am, Sydney had reached 33.9 degrees at the Bureau of Meteorology's official station at Observatory Hill, just beside the Sydney Harbour Bridge. At Sydney Airport it was 35.3 degrees.

UPDATE: At about 11am, a southerly change blew into Sydney, cooling things off. At 11:30 am it had dropped to 31 in the city and 25 at the airport, although it was still above 40 at a bunch of spots on the city's western fringe.

Bureau of Meteorology
Oh, Melbourne, you're so cool compared to Sydney. Literally. Apart from that, this map illustrates well the temperature discrepancies between coastal Sydney and suburbs in the city's west.

Topping the list of western Sydney hotspots was Badgerys Creek -- where they may or may not be going to build Sydney's second airport one day -- which hit 44.2 degrees at 1:10pm. Richmond, in Sydney's north-west, hit 44.4.

By 2pm it had cooled off to the mid 30s in most of the western suburbs as the sea breeze penetrated further inland -- although Penrith and Richmond were still above 40.

SO WHAT'S HAPPENING?

As we all know, a heatwave has affected a broad swathe of south-eastern Australia in recent days. Right now, cooler air has moved into South Australia and Victoria. But a strong surge of inland air from the north-west was centered on Sydney all night.

This graphic of temperatures at 7:30am on Wednesday morning illustrates that really well. It's not often Sydney is the hottest place in the entire country at any given time, but it was exactly that early on Wednesday morning.

Bureau of Meteorology
We repeat: this temperature snapshot is from 7:30am, when it was positively rude to be so hot.

The map below explains things even better. If you can't read a weather map, just know that air rotates anti-clockwise around a high pressure system (the big H off the east coast). See how the lines flow down from the northern inland straight towards Sydney. That means super, super hot air.

Bureau of Meteorology
Fact: Weather maps are cool.

WHAT NEXT?

Sydney is expected to reach 37 on Wednesday before a southerly change sets in. But the heatwave which has affected a broad swathe of the country from South Australia to Queensland in recent days is set to reintensify, especially in northern NSW and southern QLD in coming days.

The Bureau has produced a helpful video to explain all that:

OH, AND IS THIS A CLIMATE CHANGE THING?

You should never, ever take one event as evidence of a wider trend in any field of science. But there's all sorts of data showing that heatwaves are becoming both more frequent and more intense in Australia (and elsewhere). This appears to be yet another example of all that.


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