Celebrating South Australia


12 January 1939 Heatwave

 12 January 1939    Heatwave

On 12 January 1939 Adelaide recorded its highest maximum temperature ever when the mercury reached 117.7° Fahrenheit or 47.6° Celsius, surpassing the old record of 116.3°F in 1858. For 14 days, from New Year's Eve until 13 January, the city sweltered, with nine days over the century. Fires raged through the Adelaide hills on 10 January with most damage done at Heathfield and through Crafers, Aldgate and the National Park at Belair. Twenty houses were destroyed and many hundreds of sheep and cattle killed. The hottest spot in the State was Kyancutta where a top temperature of 120.7°F or 49.2°C was recorded.
This heatwave was worse than the period of 11 days of record temperatures experienced in February 1930. Then the temperature was over the century on seven days with the average being 100.5°F. It was the second longest spell of over 90°F heat for 73 years. Prior to this the hottest day for February was 113.6°F in 1899. Fortunately there was no report of bushfires in the 1930 spell.

Advertiser, 10 February 1930 15, 13 February 1930, p. 30.
Tom Dyster, Pump in the Roadway, Investigator Press ,1980, pp. 143-146.
Advertiser, 10 January 1994, p. 10.