January 14, 2009 / 7:41 AM / 10 years ago

Aussies set weather bureau record as mercury soars

A jogger runs along the shore of Manly Beach after sunrise on the first day of Spring in Sydney September 1, 2008. REUTERS/Will Burgess

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Soaring summer temperatures have driven a record number of hot and bothered Australians to dial the weather bureau this week, just as the country’s bush fire season starts.

The Bureau of Meteorology said calls had increased by an unprecedented 1,200 percent in the past two days as the mercury in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane climbed.

“Australians tend to be obsessed by the weather, but I haven’t seen the level of activity increase this much... it’s unprecedented,” Lara Thom, managing director of the company that hosts the bureau’s weather services, told Reuters.

“On a normal day, it’s in the thousands but now it’s in the tens of thousands. It’s possibly driven by the fact that four states have experienced almost heatwave-like conditions, and also we’re going into the bush fire season.”

The temperature in Adelaide touched 41.3 degrees Celsius (106 Fahrenheit) on Tuesday, according to the Bureau’s website www.bom.gov.au, after reaching 35.2 degrees Celsius on Monday. On Wednesday, it was 27 degrees Celsius.

Melbourne roasted on Tuesday when the thermometer hit 37.3 degree Celsius but fell to 23 degrees Celsius on Wednesday.

The bureau’s forecasts are updated thousands of times a day and are a phone call away, Thom added, saying the high temperatures were forecast to continue across much of the country.

Bushfires are common in drought-stricken Australia, the world’s driest inhabited continent, with experts blaming the high temperatures on global warming.

Writing by Miral Fahmy; Editing by David Fogarty

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