Weather Bureau launches heatwave forecast


Weather Bureau launches heatwave forecast

Updated 2 hours 46 minutes ago

The Bureau of Meteorology hopes a new heatwave forecast service will help people better plan for the impacts of extreme heat events.

The heatwave forecast will map areas across Australia that are expected to have unusually hot conditions over a period of four days.

It will define three grades of heatwave, with severe and extreme heatwave posing the most serious risk to people and infrastructure.

Assistant director of the Bureau’s weather services Alasdair Hainsworth says the pilot service will compliment current forecasts and help reduce the human and economic impact of heatwaves.

“The heatwave service provides a measure of the build-up of ‘excess’ heat and will provide a more advanced indicator than temperature alone in anticipating the impact of heat stress,” he says.

“The pilot service uses a heatwave intensity index that assesses the build up of heat over a period of time, taking into account the long-term climate of a location and the maximum and minimum temperatures leading up to a heatwave event.”


Dangers of heatwaves


Heatwaves are described by emergency agencies as the ‘silent killer’ as they can adversely affect the health of vulnerable people.

The Bureau of Meteorology says severe and extreme heatwaves have taken more Australian lives than any other natural hazard in the last 200 years.

Agencies advise people to check on the young and elderly during heatwaves, as the extreme temperatures can cause significant stress and aggravate existing conditions.

Outdoor workers, athletes and the homeless are also considered to be particularly vulnerable during heatwaves.

Defining heatwaves

The service’s launch is the first time the Bureau has provided a national definition of a heatwave.

A heatwave is now defined by three days or more of high maximum and minimum temperatures that is unusual for a location.

At the conclusion of summer, the Bureau of Meteorology will evaluate the accuracy of the heatwave forecast maps and work with the health and emergency services sector on developing a heatwave warning system.

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