Early 2009 Southeastern Australia Heat Wave

The early 2009 southeastern Australia heat wave was a heat wave that commenced in late January and led to record-breaking prolonged high temperatures in the region.

The heat wave is considered one of the, if not the, most extreme in the region's history. During the heat wave, 50 separate locations set various records for consecutive, highest daytime and overnight temperatures. The highest temperature recorded during the heat wave was 48.8 °C (119.8 °F) in Hopetoun, Victoria, a record for the state. Many locations through the region recorded all-time high temperatures including capital cities Adelaide, which reached its third-highest temperature, 45.7 °C (114.3 °F), and Melbourne, which recorded its highest ever temperature on record, 46.4 °C (115.5 °F). Both cities broke records for the most consecutive days over 40 °C (104 °F), while Mildura, Victoria recorded an all time record 12 consecutive days over 40 °C (104 °F).

Health authorities believe Victoria's record-breaking heatwave might have contributed to the deaths of about 374 people.

As temperatures soared between January 26 and February 1, so did the state's death toll with a 62% jump from the same time last year.

Victoria's chief health officer Dr John Carnie today revealed 980 people had died during the week compared to a mean of 606 deaths for the previous five years.

Weather bureau spokesman Mark Williams says there has not been a heatwave of this severity since the keeping of records in the mid-1880s.

"It's the most intense heatwave in Melbourne that we've ever observed," he said.

"They get those sort of temperatures in northern Victoria and central Australia all the time, but it's new for Melbourne."

Laverton and Moorabbin airport have recorded 44.5 degrees and it has hit 45 degrees at Avalon.

An exceptional heatwave affected south-eastern Australia during late January and early February 2009. The most extreme conditions occurred in northern and eastern Tasmania, most of Victoria and adjacent border areas of New South Wales, and southern South Australia, with many records set both for high day and night time temperatures as well as for the duration of extreme heat.

There were two major episodes of exceptional high temperatures, from 28-31 January and 6-8 February, with slightly lower but still very high temperatures persisting in many inland areas through the period in between.

Widespread very hot conditions began to develop in the southeast from 27 January onwards. The presence of a slow-moving high pressure system in the Tasman Sea, combined with an intense tropical low off the northwest coast of Western Australia and an active monsoon trough, provided the ideal conditions for hot air of tropical origin to be directed over the southern parts of the continent.