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Scorching Heat Melts Highway in Australia

Climate

Extreme weather is blasting opposite ends of the globe.

As the northeastern U.S. faces freezing winds and record snowfall, a “catastrophic" heat wave in Australia has prompted warnings of dangerous bushfire and has literally melted part of a busy highway.


According to the New York Times, triple-digit temperatures reached “life-threatening levels" over the weekend in many parts of the continent:

"Penrith, a suburb of Sydney, reached 47.3 degrees Celsius on Sunday, or just over 117 degrees Fahrenheit. It was the hottest day on record in Penrith, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales, and the hottest anywhere in the Sydney area since 1939, when a temperature of 47.8 degrees—118 degrees Fahrenheit—set a record that still stands.

At 40.1 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit, Melbourne, 550 miles southwest, was comfortable only by comparison."

On Friday in the Australian state of Victoria, with temperatures hitting 104 degrees Fahrenheit, traffic slowed to a crawl due to melting tar on a six-mile stretch of the Hume Highway in Broadford.

The heat caused the asphalt to become "soft and sticky" and the road's surface to bleed, a spokeswoman for VicRoads, which manages the state's road systems, explained to Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"This heat is a killer," Victoria ambulance commander Paul Holman warned, adding that the heat was “like a blast furnace" and residents should stay indoors.

Similarly, last year, a devastating heat wave in New Delhi also melted roads after temperatures neared 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

The heat in Australia—as well as the “bomb cyclone" in the U.S.—comes as 2017 earned the dubious distinction of Earth's second-hottest year on record. Signs of climate change include devastating wildfires to diminishing Arctic ice, the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a European Union monitoring center, noted. This follows 2016, when Earth's surface temperatures were officially the hottest since record-keeping began in 1880.

"It's striking that 16 of the 17 warmest years have all been this century," Jean-Noel Thepaut, head of Copernicus, told Reuters, noting the scientific consensus that man-made emissions has exacerbated climate change.

Experts say that unusually cold weather does not disprove global warming. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe pointed out that the record snowfall in the lakefront city of Erie, Pa. late last month could be explained by warmer temperatures increasing the risk of lake-effect snow.

But President Donald Trump, who famously asserted that climate change was "created" by the Chinese to hurt U.S manufacturing, tweeted recently that the bitter cold East Coast "could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming."

"In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year's Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against," Trump tweeted while vacationing in Palm Beach, Florida. "Bundle up!"

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