Australia heat wave creates new colours

2013-01-09 18:59
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Australia hit by devastating bush fire

Australia has been hit by a devastating bush fire which has burnt out entire communities. Another week of intense heat is expected as Australians brace for days of "catastrophic" fire.

Sydney - Australia's record-breaking heat wave has sent temperatures soaring, melting road tar and setting off hundreds of wildfires - as well as searing new colours onto weather maps.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has added dark purple and magenta to its colour-coded weather forecasting map to represent temperatures of 51°C to 54°C, officials said.

Temperatures on the map were previously capped at 50°C, represented by the colour black.

"In order to better understand what temperatures we might see... we introduced two new colours," said Aaron Coutts-Smith, manager of climate services at the Bureau of Meteorology.

Forecast models have predicted a large area of temperatures of over 50 for next Monday, he added.

Australia's average maximum temperature has exceeded 39°C for a record-breaking seven consecutive days. The previous record of four consecutive days above that level was in 1973.

The hottest temperature recorded on Monday was in the South Australian outback town of Oodnadatta, where the mercury topped out at a scorching 48.2°C - forcing the local petrol station to stop selling fuel after it started vaporising.

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