Australia is off the charts right now, and not in a good way. The country is literally on fire, as average temperatures have remained well above 100° F for six straight days and wildfires have engulfed more than 120 homes.
In fact, “red hot” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Temperatures are so high that Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has added new colors to its weather forecasting chart to represent the record-breaking heat. The fiery new hues, a smoldering purple and a searing violet, indicate a peak temperature of 54° C — or 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
The country’s all-time record of 123.26 degrees Fahrenheit was set in 1960 at the Oodnadatta Airport in Southern Australia, but it’s already so hot that people can’t even pump gas. Nikki Staskiewicz and Angela Blomeley were stranded in Oodnadatta — which bills itself as “the driest town [in] the driest state of the driest country” in the world — when they tried to fill up their tank, only to find the fuel vaporizing in the triple-digit heat.
So just how violet could Australia get this week? Though temperatures appeared to cool Tuesday, David Jones, the head of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology climate monitoring and prediction unit, said the worst may be yet to come.
“The air mass over the inland is still heating up — it hasn’t peaked,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “We know the air mass is hot enough to challenge the Oodnadatta record.”
Other members of the bureau weren’t so hot on that prediction, however. Aaron Coutts-Smith, part of the climate monitoring team, told the Herald that the 129.2-degree figure is just one model’s prediction and that the chances of extending into the heat index’s new territory were unlikely.
Some new records have already been burned, however: According to CNN, Monday’s average maximum daily temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit beat the previous high set in 1972, and similar measurements from the last few months of 2012 were the highest averages recorded since the bureau first started collecting data in 1910.