Australians sweat out warmest winter

SYDNEY – Australia is in the throes of probably its warmest winter ever, with records smashed up and down the country.

Lying awake at night in pools of sweat, Australians have been wondering which hemisphere they live in.

Now the Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed that this is set to be the hottest August on record, by a big margin – and, if forecasts for the next few days are correct, the hottest winter.

The bureau, which spends much of its time dampening speculation that weather patterns have changed, issued a “special climate statement” describing the heatwave as “highly abnormal”.

It blamed hot air accumulating over central Australia during the past two or three weeks, without southerly fronts arriving to blow it away, as would usually be expected.

Nearly a dozen towns have broken winter records by more than four or five degrees, while some coastal areas of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland experienced their warmest day of 2009 in August, surpassing the midsummer temperatures of January and February.

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