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Meteorological Observations at Yarralumla, ACT, 9-15 January 1939

By dungfungus - 18 January 2013 11

While today is shaping up to be one of our hottest on record, I was looking at some records from the Forestry and Timber Bureau and there are some similar recordings to our current month temperatures observed, as follows:

Jan   9, 1939: 38 max, 21 min

Jan 10, 1939: 39 max, 14 min 

Jan 11, 1939: 42 max, 21 min

Jan 12, 1939: 39 max, 19 min

Jan 13, 1939: 41 max, 16 min

Jan 14, 1939: 39 max, 32 min

Jan 15, 1939: 24 max, 19 min

It was also noted that shortly after 3.00pm on January 13, the north-west sky darkened as heavy smoke billowed up from fires beyond the Goodradigbee River in NSW. By 10.00pm these fires had reached the ACT in three main tongues: one near Mt Franklin, one at Two Sticks near Mt Coree and a third near Horseshoe Bend along the northern boundary of the ACT. The Mt Franklin fire, fanned by 70km/h winds, burnt right across the ACT. Damage included destruction of 1100 ha of pine plantation near Uriarra.

This all sounds strangely familiar to what happened 10 years ago this day.

What’s Your opinion?


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11 Responses to
Meteorological Observations at Yarralumla, ACT, 9-15 January 1939
switch 9:37 am 19 Jan 13

Deckard said :

Mr Gillespie said :

There was a 42.8°C on the 11th or 13th at Acton but I can’t find any records at all for January 1939

I didn’t realise you’d been stalking girls that long…

It’s long been noticed that big NORKS are getting more common. So, like global warming, you may not have observed an extreme event like a 42C in 1939 but they’re everywhere now. Maybe they are due to climate change like everything else.

Deckard 10:01 pm 18 Jan 13

Mr Gillespie said :

There was a 42.8°C on the 11th or 13th at Acton but I can’t find any records at all for January 1939

I didn’t realise you’d been stalking girls that long…

Mr Gillespie 6:11 pm 18 Jan 13

There was a 42.8°C on the 11th or 13th at Acton but I can’t find any records at all for January 1939

dungfungus 5:36 pm 18 Jan 13

Bom records guru said :

There was an observing site at Acton (now under the lake) in January 1939 as well as the one at Yarralumla – the Canberra Times may be referring to the Acton site. Not impossible that you could get a 5-degree difference between the two if the wind dropped out a bit at Acton but kept blowing at Yarralumla. The timing would have been perfect for an extreme hot night with the change coming through during the morning.

Dungfungus – do you have more extensive records from the Forestry school? I’ve seen the January 1939 week published in a book somewhere, but we don’t have daily data from there in our database before 1957 so if you know the whereabouts of the daily data prior to then we’d be interested to know about it.

Actually the information was quoted in Bushfires in Australia (R H Luke and A G McArthur) from the Department of Primary Industry & Timber Bureau and the CSIRO Division of Forest Research in 1977. I only copied the max & min temperatures from the met. observations which also show 9.00am and 3.00pm relative humidity and wind speeds for the period. I think you best chance to get more information would be from the CSIRO perhaps. I believe that the Department of The Interior Forestry Branch was responsible for bushfire records in the ACT from 1926 to 1939.
There is also a spreadsheet/table sourced from the ACT Bush Fire Council showing the monthly distribution of fires attended by ACT Bush Fire Council units in seasons of “above average severity”. This covers the years between 1939-64 and the severe years were 1943-44, 1950-51, 1951-52, 1956-57, 1957-58.
After the 1939 bushfire, a Bush Fire Council consisting of two representitives of landholders, two foresters and the Chief Land Officer for the ACT was set up to administer the Carekess Use of Fire Ordinance. Seventeen districts were formed and in each a fire controller and a deputy fire controller were appointed on the recommendations from local landholders.
In 1940 the Council recognised that fires entering the west and north-west parts of the Territory from NSW constituted the greatest source of danger. A strip of land with and area of about 20,000 hs to the west and the north-west of the Territory was leased from the NSW Government in 1944 so that control over illegal fires could be established there. At least until 1977 the land was still leased for that purpose.

I wonder if that lease still exists?

Lots of other facsinating stuff in this book – some bureaucrats in the ACT Government should have read it before 2003 I think. If you want to borrow the book please indicate.

Bom records guru 4:26 pm 18 Jan 13

There was an observing site at Acton (now under the lake) in January 1939 as well as the one at Yarralumla – the Canberra Times may be referring to the Acton site. Not impossible that you could get a 5-degree difference between the two if the wind dropped out a bit at Acton but kept blowing at Yarralumla. The timing would have been perfect for an extreme hot night with the change coming through during the morning.

Dungfungus – do you have more extensive records from the Forestry school? I’ve seen the January 1939 week published in a book somewhere, but we don’t have daily data from there in our database before 1957 so if you know the whereabouts of the daily data prior to then we’d be interested to know about it.

davo101 3:15 pm 18 Jan 13

Diggety said :

Jan 14, 1939: 39 max, 32 min

Overnight minimum of 32degC???

Perhaps all that bushfire smoke kept the heat in, because 32degC is ridiculous.

I think that may be a typo, the Canberra Times has it being 27 deg.

PS: I do like the way that the front page on the next day is back to more important things:

Hitler
Mussolini
Jewish refugees
Japan
War in Spain
..world going to hell in a handcart

Chop71 12:08 pm 18 Jan 13

Won’t happen again, we have the carbon tax now.

davo101 12:00 pm 18 Jan 13

Yeap the 1938/39 summer was freakin hot. The 13th was Black Friday and the 14th is the hottest day on record in NSW (44 deg.) so we’ve still gots a way to go as we’ve only hit 41 this time.

Diggety 11:26 am 18 Jan 13

Jan 14, 1939: 39 max, 32 min

Overnight minimum of 32degC???

Perhaps all that bushfire smoke kept the heat in, because 32degC is ridiculous.

Diggety 11:25 am 18 Jan 13

eily said :

Though we had some very important and interesting personages helping fight the fires. Sir Douglas Mawson and H. G. Wells. Can’t top that.

That is pretty cool.

eily 11:10 am 18 Jan 13

Trove: ‘The Canberra Times’, 16 January 1939 “Canberra Saved in National Fire Holocaust”.

Seems we never learn.

Though we had some very important and interesting personages helping fight the fires. Sir Douglas Mawson and H. G. Wells. Can’t top that.

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