Bloody Heat!

I am over it!  Stinking hot days, and sultry hot nights.  Can’t work in the garden.  Can’t sleep well at night.

Summer was supposedly over twelve days ago and all we have had since then is unseasonably hot weather.  The maximum temperature at our home on Monday was 37.8C (100F).  Today, the temperature is now passed above 30C so it has just surpassed all consecutive days of 30C records dating back 156 years.  It is forecast to be a maximum of 37C again today!

Melbourne has only posted eight consecutive days of 30 degrees or more on four occasions – in 1890, 1898, 1951 and 1961 – in records that go back to 1856. Each of the previous stints fell in January or February.

Our last day under 30 degrees C (86F) was on the 3rd March.  The average maximum temp for the month has been 32.3C (90.1F) which is +8.3 above the long term average.

In fact, this heat is predicted for another two more days until a cool change passes through (fingers crossed), so all previous records will be broken.  Nationally, it was the hottest summer since consistent records began in 1910.

Subsequently, my summer garden tidy up has been delayed, as has my winter planting in the veggie patch.  It is simply a case of keeping the garden alive at the moment, and certainly no time to be planting seedlings, unless I want them fried of course.

It is not just the garden that has suffered.  People suffer as well.  Some of you may know that Kim has Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  She was diagnosed back in 1999, two months after Ben’s birth, and went technically blind for two weeks, with a full recovery after two months.  Difficult times for both of us, but we got through it stronger.

What has that got to do with the heat, I here you ask?  Well the vast majority of MS sufferers are dramatically effected by hot temperatures, and they suffer from heavy fatigue, much more than non MS people.  As the temperature rises during the day, you can visibly see her draining of energy, whereby I step in quickly and take over whatever task she was attempting to perform.

There are only two ways for her to recover after a ‘meltdown’.  Sit in a cool room with an ice pack on her head, which only works sometimes, or go for a swim in our pool.  It has been very difficult keeping any room cool, even with air conditioning, so she has been swimming morning and night to prevent any big meltdowns from occurring.  She is managing okay at the moment, but if summers continue to become hotter, as they are predicted to become due to climate change, I am not sure what our options are going to be.

We could move house to a cooler climate, but even Tasmania has been affected by the heat, so going further south is not really and option.

Yesterday, we decided to save our pennies and get the house weatherized by professionals.  I don’t care how much it will cost, or how much longer I have to push out my retirement, I just want our home to be a comfortable retreat next summer.

Additionally, over the winter, I will be building shade structures for all my raised garden beds, to keep the direct sunlight off the vegetables.  This adaptation method should increase yield and productivity.  Anything has got to be better than vine fried tomatoes, frazzled peppers, and cooked zucchinis!  Cooking is for the kitchen not the veggie patch.

The chooks have lots of shade now that the mulberry tree in Cluckingham Palace has doubled in size in one season, and we are topping up their water twice daily.  So they are coping okay.  Got to look after the girls, and I am so glad that I build CP a couple of years ago.

Anyway, I found some tips for those in our local area which you can check out in the info-graphic below (click to enlarge).

You know, I really hoped that we – the human race – would have been well on our way towards combating climate change by now, seeing that we have known about it for decades.

Looks like we are well on our way to frying ourselves, if we don’t do something soon.

How are you handling the heat here in Greater Melbourne?  Is anyone else suffering from their own bout of extreme weather?

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Comments

  1. says

    Absolutely Gavin. My garden is getting fried and its too hot to work on it. I was hoping to do that major work this weekend too but didnt/couldnt get there. Trapped in a house with air cons chugging away and my $$$ going with it. I hope that Kim can find relief in the next few days. Gosh its hard to sleep. Everyone is tired and cranky.

  2. says

    Hi Gavin, I’m in South Australia and we are suffering too! I am SO sick of it! Hopefully the change will be here sooner rather than later :)
    Judy

  3. says

    What I find troubling is your last two heat waves were followed by winters that made our top ten snowfall amounts. What if that is a trend?

  4. says

    Hi Gavin, yeah, it is not fun is it? Please post about your weatherising of the house and the shade you put up for the Vegas, as I have decided that I need to do this too. I also need to put in some drippers or something like it. Anyone have any clues on a cheap watering system for a large yard with water gravity fed from a dam?
    I hope we get an Autumn soon- not sure me ( I have Fibromyalgia – so my thoughts go to Kim) or the garden will cope if we go straight to Winter!
    Cheers Kathryn (just south of Bendigo)

    • says

      Sorry to hear about your condition Kathryn.

      I certainly will document the entire weatherization process and what I do in the veggie patch as well.

      I did a series of post about low pressure drippers that may help. Just search for it in the search bar.

      Gav x

  5. Anonymous says

    Hi Gavin, I used to work for ecoMaster, in New Gisborne, who do retrofits to homes to summer/winter proof them. They are the experts at making homes more sustainable- draught proofing, insulation, double glazing, shading, etc etc.
    They will even itemise out the quotations so that you can chose to DIY the installation if you like.
    (This is not a paid advert, I promise)
    I have had two small kids locked indoors for the long weekend, and as I look longingly out at the garden, I feel your pain! I hope for Kim’s sake that the weather equalises out soon….
    Kellie.

    • says

      Hi Kellie,

      Yes, I am going to make ecoMaster my first port of call. Our sustainable living group were given a presentation by Lyn and Maurice a while back, which as really good.

      I will be booking the evaluation soon.

      Gav x

  6. says

    Damn straight! I’m sitting here sweltering in my air condition-less house. And I work in an over air conditioned building so its not like I can even build up some resistance and adaptability as summer goes on, so my best friend is my 1950′s fan that I bought 10 years ago in an antique store and still works a treat! I think the only reason my garden has survived is the deep watering I do most weekends with a light spray for about 30mins on each spot, though I shudder to think what my water bill would be. I know, I know – I should have water tanks, but not possible when I don’t own the house. I have asked repeatedly though (for solar panels too but that’s another story…) and I’d love to plant shading deciduous climbing plants on arbors around the place to to provide shade in summer and let sun through in winter, but that also is not an option. I hope Kim pulls through the heat; its great she has such support in you and her family.

  7. says

    Hi Gavin,
    I remember how relentless the heat is in Melbourne during a hot spell so I really sympathise with you over such a long stretch. Sounds like it must be pretty desperate for Kim, too.
    Although it’s not so bad at the moment (February brought us lots of rain) the long term trend it Sydney is up up up too. This year brought us the hottest day ever recorded. 47 degrees in where we are in the west.
    Jen
    PS: I’m a long term reader who has just decided to be a good cyber citizen, stop lurking and start commenting on all the blogs I read!

  8. says

    Hi Gavin

    Yes how things have changed, next thing you know they will be selling blocks of land down on the Antarctic peninsular. Something to look forward to? On a more serious note I do feel for people whose struggle to cope with this heat is compounded by their age, disability and/or illness. Climate change is also a social issue as there are many people who are at risk on these extreme days. The scientists say that we are just getting started on global warming with about 1 degree increase in global temperatures. I wonder what it will be like when we hit 2, 3 or 4 degrees of global warming? How will we manage? And, how will we provide for our most vulnerable citizens?

    • says

      Antarctic Peninsular! Nice one Penny.

      Yes, it is difficult to experience it first hand. Health will become a much bigger issue as the Earth warms.

      Gav x

  9. says

    I think the heat has finished with us over here and went over your way. we had our weeks of 38/40/42/39 and I am sorry but I don’t miss them, but do sympathise with people and gardens who it’s really taking a toll on.

    My Nanna was out on a station that regularly saw 45/46 degrees in the shade… as a standard summer temp.

    So I hope it breaks for you guy soon.
    Cheers and cool breezes
    K

    • says

      Yes, the west did have a scorcher of a summer. I don’t know how you handle the high summer heat. I dislike it when it sits anywhere about 35C.

      Gav x

  10. says

    Dear Gavin and Kim,
    I hope things get better soon. While I have never had to live through temps that hot, my husband uased to work at an Alcan smelter in those kind of temperatures -very hot.
    The remedies for fixing up your house are the same as we use to keep us warm in the winter cold. Lots of insulation, double glazed windows and doors, etc.
    Do houses there have a basement? The few hot summer days we have had send us downstairs to sleep.
    Take care,
    Barb

    • says

      Hi Barb. Unfortunately not many houses have basements. It would be a great addition, however most homes here are built on top of a concrete slab.

      I have retrofitted our home as much as I can myself with draft-proofing, awnings, closed pelmets and curtains, and opening windows at night, however I need some professional advice as there are some very good solar ventilators that remove heat from your roof cavity these days, which I am not up to fitting myself.

      Gav x

  11. Anonymous says

    Hi, I’m just a short hop away from you, in Los Angeles. You are way ahead of me in terms of your gardens, but I’m doing my best to catch up.
    I share your concern about the weather conditions of the future. Here in LA we have the same blistering Summers you describe. I have taken to sleeping in my hammock; it’s delightful, but not so good for an entire family!
    Jenny

  12. says

    In the old days, a lot of houses had sleeping porches. On the worst summer nights, families would sleep out on this screened porch where it was at least a little more comfortable than inside.

    You and Kim have my sympathies. I despise the heat and humidity of summer. I really don’t enjoy July and August much at all. It’s the humidity that gets to me the most, when the air outside literally feels like a wet blanket. And up here in NY, as humid as it gets in the summer, it’s not even close to what they get down in the Deep South. I’m not sure I could survive down there. My genes are all from cool damp England.

    Hang in there Gavin. It’s sure to break soon. Maybe with a rip-snortin’ thunderstorm to refill your water tanks?

    • says

      Hi Kathy, Ditto with the genes. Even though I am fourth generation Aussie, I am of anglo-celtic stock, as is Kim who was originally English, and now a naturalised Aussie. We sunburn easily as well, being very close to the hole in the ozone layer!

      By the way, we did have a very quick thunderstorm that hit two days ago and dumped 5mm of rain which filled up both tanks. I have a big catchment area!

      Gav x

  13. says

    The insanity is that the last day of summer was icy! Our weather patterns are so screwed up and I can only blame climate change for it in some aspect of it or another.
    We’ve been sweltering inside with no fly screens and 4 of us that suffer badly should we be bitten by mosquitoes – fly screens are a must before next summer) and the heat inside has not been helped by my need to can and preserve the bulk fruits and sundry that arrived from our co-op. The timing was hell! And I finished late yesterday, just as the heat is over today.
    Have you thought about solar air-con? I received an email a little while back which I’ll forward to you. I too have someone close to me with MS and I know that the heat just about cripples him with pain and numbness and he works outside. They have air-con at home though which I know he will be very grateful for.

  14. says

    This heatwave has really frightened me. I’ve spent the last week planning a retrofit for our place. We put up ready made awnings on the north side of the house over the weekend, and I’m getting a quote to have some made for the front of the house. We’d also like to redo the roof insulation as we’re guessing it’s pretty old, put in a solar whizz or 2, and the big one, a solar ventilation unit (especially since we have mould in winter- bad!) Our house normally fairs pretty well for 2 or 3 days heat as it is double brick at the front, at least the bedrooms stay cool for a while. But 9 days straight of high temperatures- unbearable. We don’t have air conditioning and are actively resisting it. Do you know much about solar ventilators? Andrew wants to build one himself, with guidance from a book he has :)

    • says

      Hi Alicia. I don’t know too much about solar ventilators, but hopefully that will change very soon. I do know that they are quite efficient at extracting the heat from the roof cavity.

      Best of luck with your retrofit!

      Gav x

  15. says

    Over here in Perth it seems as though we have had over 30 all summer, now we have a bit of respite with temps in 20′s but how long with it last? We have recently moved to the hottest house in the Southern Hemisphere and also looking at ways to keep it cool with insulation, roof whirlybirds etc so I’d be interested to hear how you go with your weather proofing Gavin. My brother also has ms and is constantly fatigued.

    • says

      Hi Diddlie. Give my heart goes out to your bother. Being Kim’s carer, I know how he feels. :-(

      As for our retrofit, I will be documenting it as usual!

      Gav x

  16. says

    Sorry to hear about your endless summer. We had one last year here in the US Southeast, Georgia – our summers usually include several days of 100-105F with high humidity which really messes with the garden, but last summer we had a once-in-a-lifetime record high of 112F for two days one weekend :( So my interest is really peaked by your mention of building shade structures for your garden beds. Looking forward to hearing more about them.

  17. Anonymous says

    Gavin,

    Love your blog, but fail at commenting mostly, but this is so exactly like our summers here in the southern US that I had to say how much I feel for Kim. I am one of those strange ones whose Asthma is activated by heat and I get symptoms of heat exhaustion very easily – nothing like what she suffers but I do feel for her. If you ever do move, by all means get a basement if that is possible. We moved just before last summer and our basement kept about 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than the rest of the house.

    Elizabeth

  18. says

    Tasmania is definately in th wrong direction! The gorgeous tropics have been wonderful lately. Not hot at all…. Which is usual for summer because we have the wet season to keep the sun off (cloud cover is great!). Good luck with the renovations and additions and I hope that Kim feels better soon.

  19. Anonymous says

    Living in the US, my season is the opposite of yours, and we are heading into spring. I live in NE Oregon State, and like several commentors have mentioned about their areas, our weather is just WEIRD lately. Winter has largely disappeared (when I was a child here, my brother and I often went snow sledding after school in the winters. My grandparents as young people would ice skate on local ponds. The last four winters we have only had a brief skiff of snow–once) and yet spring is surprisingly cold with summer very late in coming. So much so that vegetable gardens struggle to get a good start before suddenly July’s heat hits at full blast and does them in. But even our usual summer heat is not what it was; two years ago we had not a single 100F day during the summer — unheard of! I find this all very unsettling. People think of global warming as simply things getting hotter (and then scoff when there’s an extra cold winter), but one of my writing students noted in a research paper that it really means that things will be come more EXTREME — some areas colder, some hotter. It scares me to even write about.

    Enjoying your posts as always, though slightly depressed! :) — kristin

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