Almanac Weather: Please explain

Right. This is pretty crazy weather. I just need a meteorologist or AWN (Amateur Weather Nut) to theorise and explain something.

This heat is not unprecedented (of course). The day we moved to Melbourne – late January, 2003 – it was 47 degrees at the servo in Grong Grong where the (ancient, diminutive) mechanic had played footy under Peter Box. My thong got stuck in the asphalt when I got out of the car. Driving further south we could see the smoke from bushfires  – huge atomic plumes on the horizon (especially towards The Alps). It was 45 degrees on the Saturday morning as we searched for a place to rent. Six prospective tenants looked at the first place, but walking along Rae St (was this the great rental street of the inner north?) was like someone had opened the oven door. Subsequently we were the only people at the next three open inspections until the realo had even had enough. The benefit was that we had the pick of the properties – and landed a terrace in Carlton St, Carlton.

But it’s hot today in Melbourne. Forty degrees at 11.15am. Adelaide was crazy yesterday.

I follow the weather closely. I’d say we are a Weather Family -and always have been. It’s partly because the weather is so interesting, and so real, and partly because I grew up in a farming community.

The thing I have been noticing, which I can’t remember happening before, is the High Pressure in the Tasman Sea. It seems to be stuck there. It was there two weeks ago, (check out the last 7 days HERE), it’s there today, and the four day synoptic chart has it there on Monday.

Here’s the question: why is it going nowhere? What will move it?

I am barracking for the monsoonal trough, and the monsoon rain generally, hoping the tropical moisture will feed south, as it has done across the last decade. (Remember that Adelaide Test with the storm imediately following the denouement?)

Thoughts welcome…

January 25 (images thanks to the magnificent Bureau of Meteorology):


January 24-28:


Read more of John Harms’s pieces – including his recent ‘Simple Lethargic Motion’.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.


  1. Howdy John, yes I’ve been watching it as well from further up Oz (in Darwin)….have a “rough” theory why its not moving much . Our traditional Monsoon up here would normally kick in about December …but….this year the monsoon shifted over Darwin only about 4 days ago , the latest Monsoon to kick in since 1973 (when Glenelg won its first SANFL premiership since 1939 ..Yay !) ….so generally I reckon the Monsoon would assist in pushing the regular weather patterns further south down your way and also pushing the systems (like that big High) further east. I would reckon the status quo will kick in shortly though and normal patterns will resume. I hope so as we were set for the driest Wet season on record until 4 days ago and we have enough punters up here going Troppo with this crazy humidity. All the Best !!

  2. You missed another vital reason for your interest in the weather John. Punters are weather people. “Its been wet in Townsville lately,” I’d drop into casual conversation – and Perth people would look at me strangely. How did I know? Thursday gallops of course. That storm that went through the far north of Victoria last week? Mildura trots cancelled.
    These days I have to rely on the BOM when planning holidays.
    And watching all the old footy replays on You Tube. Where has all the winter mud gone? Agronomy; drainage or global warming?

  3. Michael Crawford says

    For an explanation in simple terms about how how Victorian weather works John, check out Climate Dogs, in particular, Ridgy. Highly entertaining as well as informative.

  4. Grong-Grong !?!

    Been there a few times but in the cooler months. Have family buried there.

    Also been to the pub, a hotel ran by Tad Obzudinski, a gun full forward from Wagga who played 2 games for South Melbourne in 1973. He copped Geoff Southby on debut, then Harvey Merrigan. Back to the bush.

    The weather? Lucky that ‘climate change is crap’ or else it could be a portender of things to come.


  5. Boy – I hate this hot weather 47 here in Adelaide yesterday. Thankfully a cool change has hir us. John, I noticed your reference to the footballing Peter Box from Melbourne. Well, over here in good old SA, we also had a fantastic sportsman named Peter Box (no relation to the Brownlow Medalist). Our Box was a fantastic southpaw baseball pitcher who won 3 Shipway medals (for Night Baseball) and 2 Capps medals. So well did Pete play in the ’56 Claxton Shield he not only made All Australian, but, along with fellow South Aussies Chalky White, Colin Payne and John Langley was selected to represent Australia in the ’56 Melbourne Olympics against a touring American baseball team. Wikipedia has confused the 2 Peter Boxes and credited the Melbourne counterpart with playing in that match when it was actually our Box. Southpaw Peter box also was a very dangerous batter and hit the very first home run in Night Baseball. A few weeks later he repeated the dose by hitting a grand slam homer against a visiting Victorian Baseball side. Box was also the winning pitcher. Peter Roy Box was my boyhood hero an he passed away in 2014 a week after his 85th birthday..

  6. Disappointing the weather in Adelaide yesterday out in the nervous 40s I was barracking for the half ton and seriously it was bloody ridiculous

  7. Talking about climate change, if you don’t believe it’s all crap just ask Andrew Bolt, Rowan Dean and pollies Tony Abbott and Craig Kelly (not the former Norwood and Collingwood footballer).

  8. But then again the climate sure changed from yesterday to today – 47 down to 31. perhaps those characters arn’t right after all. I sometimes think Andrew Bolt is more of a nut than a bolt. Keep cool everyone.

  9. Hi All

    Thanks for these very interesting comments.

    Fisho, that is quite a yarn about your Peter Box. I did not know any of that.

    Bill, send some Darwin rain south please. Love the histoorical reference points.

    Gigs, that’s a very helpful article.

    And Michael, Ridgy is a beauty – and also very helpful. Credit to Vic bureaucrats for that creative approach.

    PB, I can hand over cash whatever the conditions but have had the occasional success on heavy tracks. I used to back the Toy Pindarris in the old days – they could dead set swim.

    Finally, all credit to the BOM. It is such an important governemnt service.


  10. John, I first met Peter box win 2007 when i began research for my book on Night Baseball in South Australia. He called in to my place for a supposedly 10 minute visit to suss me out. Any way the visit lasted almost 2 hours as we both hit it off with each other. He was 78 at that time.. What a fantastic bloke he was with friends all over Australia. After completion of the book (which is now in its 4th re-printing) I began a series of books titled “Legends of SA Baseball”. Chapter 2 of book 1 is all about Box and goes for around 30 pages. Incidentally Pete became really good friends with my good wife and I and it came as a real blow to us when he passed away while driving in April 2014. It was hard for us to believe he was gone us he was as “fit as a mallee bull”. In closing, I am very proud of how the chapter on his career came out.

  11. Just got back from Yarrawonga on the Murray. I was there for 10 days and reckon 5 of them exceeded 40 easily. One got to 46. Lake Malwala, which is enormous, was like a hot bath. But the weird weather pattern this year was the heat coming in from the north east? Couldn’t figure it out, unless it was hot wind from Central Australia just blowing in circles.

    What’s the opposite of climate change? Climate unchanged. Which will never happen. It is fun to follow.

  12. Just got back from winter in Nepal . I thought it was was incredibly mild for winter. Could have worn a -tshirt instead of thermals walking during the day and didn’t wear the down jacket that I needed at similar altitude 2 years ago..I have spent many freezing winters there. Back in Oz this hot weather feels like the normal hot weather I experienced growing up in the 50’s and 60’s in the Murray Valley Victoria. Every day for the entire summer seemed stinking hot back then. We could never sleep , needed cold washers on our faces at night and couldn’t sit outside because we’d be eaten alive by mosquitoes.

  13. BD Dutschke says

    Our last drive through Grong Grong last April we saw the nearby Farmers Home pub in Matong was still boarded up after a fire there about a decade earlier. Sad to see, but at least it hasn’t been knocked down. Took a photo.

    Aahh, blocking highs, there are almost no winners this time of year. Excessively humid about the east coast, heatwaves and long dry spells inland. The only upsetting influences are an active and southward-moving monsoon, as Bill suggested, and/or the jetstream. The jetstream (strong winds in the upper atmosphere) drive and shape highs and lows we see on our synoptic charts. Lately, the jetsream has been south of New Zealand, cradling the high in the region and keeping strong fronts further south. There are signs the jetstream will budge that Tasman Sea high in the next few days, but it won’t go too far away.

  14. Hi JTH.
    We’re back from driving Melbourne to Uluru.
    Interior SA more like the interior of a convection oven.

    The “please explain” is interesting.
    We can always ask another “why?”

    Blocking High? Why?
    Absence of monsoon? Why?

    We had hot weather before.
    We sure did.
    But what is undeniable is that human induced climate change affects our weather now and will in the future.
    (Why? Too much CO2 in the atmosphere. Why? We burn too much carbon. Why? We think we need to as our cheapest power supply requires it. Why? We developed our lives to depend on it. Why? Etc)
    It’s happening.
    We (humans) will probably need to think quickly and think collectively.

    Among many reports produced by the Bureau of Meteorology is this one on the recent heat (a “special climate statement”):

    Who knows when that blocking high will shift?

  15. Thanks for the further comments,

    Yes, Pam, I recall many a long hot summer of the 70s. And then wet in Queensland too.

    Nice to see some thoughts from our two Almanac (professional) meteorologists, BD and ER. With climate change such a part of the conversation, extreme weather is always going to turn heads. The period of 42+ certainly caught my attention – I can’t help but think of our kids in those situations. The concerns are very real to me.

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