While the population of New York City have spent their weekend so far learning new meteorological terms (‘bombogenesis’, ‘thundersnow’, etc), navigating slushy sidewalks and enjoying the winter wonderland of Central Park under nine inches of snow, their suffering does not, may I be so bold, compare to the depredations Mother Nature has seen fit to inflict upon us here in Sydney. This graphic from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) speaks a thousand words:
While the top temperature today was recorded at an outback town called Ivanhoe (47C / 116.6F), who gives a shit — there are only 198 lunatics living there. At my place, on the other hand, the temperature reached 46.9C and we have a resident populace of 206,178! And if it sounds like I’m boasting, trust me, this is a race nobody wants to win. Especially these guys:
In the absence of any emergencies, an option today would have been to drive for ninety-minutes through some of the worst traffic in Australia to spend another hour looking for parking a good twenty-minute thong-melting walk from Bondi, where the only patch of infernally-hot sand large enough for a beach towel is two hundred metres from the water, patrolled by locals who want to fight you because it’s ‘their beach’ and you’re trespassing. Unless you are a hot chick, of course, in case you are welcome everywhere.
No, it’s much safer to stay at home and seek relief from the heat in alcohol and air-conditioning. That was my tactic today, watching movies under the fan while panting Indian Mynas and heat-incapacitated Wattlebirds splash about in the birdbath with our cats eying them impotently from the cool side of the glass. Despite their protests, they stayed inside until 9pm because letting a dumb furry animal out into 45C is just cruel. I even put ice cubes into their water bowls. Like most people, I am keen to look after my little mates.
That said, it isn’t over yet. The Rural Fire Service social media feeds are warning us that the only factor missing from an otherwise perfect firestorm is wind; and guess what’s forecast? “The addition of fresh to strong W/NW winds ahead of this front tomorrow will produce extreme to catastrophic fire conditions” unquote. Catastrophic is an actual fire-danger rating in Australia — so what sounded like boasting earlier was in fact anxiety. I’ve dealt with two bushfires this summer, and they were only babies. In the absence of a megatsunami that can reach 50km inland, the worst possible outcome is a catastrophic bushfire; and our summer is far from over.
So I hope we dodge a bullet. Reading articles of the weather in NYC, of snowploughs in Manhattan, school closures, puffer jackets and waterproof boots, it’s hard to imagine I will ever feel that cold again, but with a bit of luck I’ll escape this red hell and see you there. Maybe catch the tail end of your winter if it lingers into April; wear proper clothes, eat a proper hot meal, sleep under a proper blanket. Sounds almost too good to be true, but here’s hoping that I’ll get there in time to get a little snow on my boots.