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3 corrections, most recently by anonymous - Show corrections


(Sydney Morning Herald, 14th January).

Whatever is coming over this country ! People struck almost lifeloss in the streets, animals falling as though killed hy some insidious disease, and mau and beast in city and in country in torture 1 Anyone who went through Sydney yesterday as a Btranger might well exclaim, " If this is their sunny New South Wales, Heaven help thom !"

Who has known business ashore and afloat

literally stopped on account of a high tem- perature rendering men physically unfit for duty? Nor does it appear in the whole of thc authenticated weather history of thc colony that anything like it has been known. The Association of Old Identities (did such a society exist) could no doubt tell some inter- esting facts of thc heat of bygone days, when they paddled about in thc Tank Stream and slept under a tree on thc slopes of Brickfield Hill battling with the tuneful mosquito.

And it is unfortunate that in the books on old times these data of the vagaries of the sun arc not available. Men of sixty have a clear range of a good decade over and above thc Ob- servatory black and white records, und their

diaries would be invaluable in a time like this,

(Glancing back to the tiles of the Herald for   half a century, there seems no summer that had yielded as much discomfort as that of 1895-6. The year 1863 seems to have come up pretty well with 106'7" in the shade, but prior to 1S40 the temperatures were from 80" lo anything up to 112'. lu one or two in- stances they were 135°. These were for ther- mometers which may in the light of more recent official reports be taken as part in thc shade and part in the sun. They are, in fact,

not given as true shade temperatures. As to the actual heat in the metropolis, there cannot bc much hesitation about supposing that it has not exceeded that of yesterday at any time since a white man put his foot upon the coast And this leads to a remark which may be of interest here, namely, that what is known as the true shade is the shade afforded at the   Observatory by one of the loveliest little summer-houses, almost buried in foliage, but with lattice-work all round, so that the breeze may play upon the thermometers, but where the sun's rays can by no means be admitted. It is not the shade of George street nor of any of thc city streets, and in that sense the man about town had light on his side when on Sunday he declared, " What! 88' in the shade. Oh, that's nonsense ; it must have been 100°, " The truth is that on Sunday night at 9 o'clock, when the temperature at the Observatory was 88'G'

it was 98° in one of the coolest build-

ings in Syduey with all windows open. And it is easily atc jun:ed for when one

takes into account the heat of last week and its effects upon the buildings-how they absorbed it all the week and retained it, never cooling. It would therefore be but a fair margin to allow for yesterday aa between Observatory and town temperature that on, say, for example, tile shady aide of the thickly-populated streets of Rast, West, and South Sydney 10S'5 meant 118-5 in the shade. This estimate was certainly verified by a cor- rected thermometer (one low rather than high) at Ultimo. There, covered by a strong passion-fruit vine, the reading on the shade side of the building was 120'3. To the naturally robust not exposed to the direct rays of the sun such a temperature means bat a little personal discomfort. " Can you keep yourself cool?" "How do you like it?" "Have you seen anything equal to this?" and so on, were the remarks made while one mopped his face and wrung out his starched collar ; but to thc thousands of sick, to the equally numerous body of delicate, and amongst those who fight the battle of life in heated workshops, foundries, engine-rooms, to the " bullocking " man who does his eight hours of grain-carrying, wool shifting and stowing down io thc holds of our ships, and to tho coal-stevedoring fraternity, such a day must have been fearful. As will be seen from the detailed reports the

effect of such a heat has reached the hearths and homes of some families in the most terrible form-the death of the bread-winner. In other instances the sunstroke, though not claiming its victim, has left him in so critical a state as to leave little hope, and the hospitals may bo said in reality to have reaped a veritablo harvest. At the Gas- works Ute steamer Timaru was discharging, and one man was stricken down, whereupon work was suspended. AU stevedoring and ship work waa stopped, speaking generally. In

thu midst of it all there was at least one

ecctiou of the community who, while feeling the heat and sympathising with the sickness, were kept busy. AU the hotels in the city were crowded, that is at least io the heart of the city itself. From 9 a.m. thc bars were blocked, and extra waiters were engaged. The ice-carts were to be seen at almoBt every door, and the whole staff of the municipal authorities were washing the streets as a cooler. The relief afforded was, however, slight, the streets drying almost ss quickly as they were watered. The peculiar glare of the sun (for ono could look at it pretty well all dey without difficulty) and the strange colour of the atmosphere were commented upon, and long after eight o'clock last evening there was a large and fiery reflection in the Western sky, covering au extensive area, and so brilliant as to suggest an aurora. To many it sug- gested the reflection of a large fire, but eventually the conclusion arrived at was that, although nearly half-past eight o'clock, it was simply reflection of the setting sun, which had gone down in most angry mood.


Mr. Bussell (Government Meteorologist) on being seen last night by a Herald reporter said that the heat record of this month had

exceeded all past records since the foundation of the Observatory, thirty-eight years ago. On being asked whether prior to that date in the Government Astronomer's recollection there were any older records which could bc trusted, he said that he did not think that thc temperature records at South Head could be trusted, because there waB nothing to show that tho thermometers were of a perfectly reliable kind, and in 1840 it was very difficult to obtain satisfactory ther- mometers. However, Mr. Jevons, who was

then un officer in the Mint and an accurate scientific observer, kept records, athis private residence for throe years, and these were pub- lished in the old Magazine of Science and Arl, and it is there slated in thc return furnished by Mr. dévoua in the meteorological table that in 1657, 24th December, the temperature rose to 108'0°, the beat being due to an extremely hot N. W, wind, aa it waa yester- day. In a second return from the same gentleman, and published in tho same work, it is stated that the temperature rose to 1080° on the 15th of January, 1K58, and he further states that on this occasion lhere waa au extremely N.W. wind. On the first occasion the nor'wester was followed by the welcome southerly burster, but on tho second there was no southerly and thc temperature remained the following day nt 83-9°, aud again on the second day 86'8°, the evening bringing for- ward, after seventy-two hours, a southerly Bquall, which brought it down. These obser- vations were not taken in Sydney, but in Double Bay, where Mr. Jervons resided, Mr. Jcrvons shortly after left the colony to become a professor in England and a well known author. As to this continuous heat at

present Mr. Russell said there had not been uuythiug equal lo il in Mr. Jervons' rocords or at the Obstrvatoty. For not only were the temperatures higher than in uny previous records, bul far more persistent. January stands at present - 95 .2°, 105-2°, 98-6, 100<)°, 108-5°.


Mr. Russell said (hat the primary causo is the healing of thc interior plains by the sun shining in a clear atmosphere. Uudcr such circumstances thc temperature of the soil frequently rises to 140°. Sir John Herschel mentions that in some experiments of his owu at thc Cape of Good Hope lie had known the temperature of the soil to rise to 150°, Mr. RuBBell had himself known the tempera-

ture to rise to 140°. It ls not surprising, .

therefore, that the wind blowing over a great surface so heated should become unpleasantly hot. As an illustration of the effect of wind on the temperature blowing over a sur- face, it may be mentioned that tho tempera- ture of the nor'-easter ou Sunday was only 86 ), agaiust the temperature to-day, 108*6. The same Bun BIIOUC on both days, which were (BO fara» the atmosphere was concerned) very similar. Vet the two conditions produced a différence in the temperature of thc two days of 19 4 degrees. In other words, thc sea breeze brought in tho sea temperature on Sunday, and the land breeze brought in tho temperature ot tile vast plums of thc interior.