Spare A Thought For Gascoyne Junction
Saturday, February 7, 2009
South-eastern Australia has endured a lot of extremely hot weather recently. It’s also been extremely well reported by the national news media; so well that anyone could be excused for thinking it hasn’t been hot anywhere else. Not so - it has been hotter elsewhere, and for longer, but it just doesn’t make the news.
I don’t mean to downplay the heat in the east. Adelaide’s record six consecutive days over 40°C (104°F), with a peak of 45.7°, is very hot. Melbourne had a record three consecutive days over 40°C last week, and today reached 46.4°. That is serious heat!
But consider the small town of Gascoyne Junction, inland from carnarvon on the central coast of Western Australia. This is what the folks there have been quietly enduring over the last six weeks:
- Over 40°C for 22 consecutive days, followed by one day of “only” 39.8°, then over 40° for a further 11 consecutive days.
- Average overnight minimum temps for January: 26.6°
- Average maximum temps for the whole of January: 43.3°
- Hottest day: 48.6° (119.5°F)
- So far this month: over 40° every day (average 44.3°)
- Forecast temperatures for the next six days: between 44° and 48° each day (as shown below)
- Relief in sight: none
- National media coverage: none
The news section of the WeatherZone website has been swamped with reports of heat in the east, but heat in Gascoyne Junction and other places like it barely rates a mention - even though the above temperatures are considerably above average. Remoteness and small population could be a factor, but I suspect it has more to do with the fact that most of our national news is generated by people living on the east side of the country, where most of the population is. I’ve often noticed this bias; even hot spells in Perth don’t seem to be as newsworthy as hot spells in Adelaide, despite Perth’s higher population and usually hotter weather (except recently).
Whatever heat we suffer in the capital cities, we should spare a thought for those in places like Gascoyne Junction … where the weather is even hotter, but not as newsworthy.
Update Feb 9th:
I must emphasise that my comments relate to purely weather-related news. Since writing the above, devastating bushfires fanned by the heat in Victoria have killed at least 131 people and destroyed over 700 homes - obviously heat-related tragedy on this scale deserves much attention, as well as our prayers and support.