The BOM announced it was the hottest ever day in Sydney today, then realized it had it wrong, but not before headlines spread across the country. For a million dollars a day you’d think the BOM would check their own “high quality” database. A scientific agency would take great care before announcing “historic all time records”for a city of five million people. A shameless PR agency might see that sort of mistake as an advantage.
It’s careless, piled on rank neglect
Even if the day had been “a record”, the temperatures are often artificially inflated due to site changes, thermometer changes, and the one-second-record effect thanks to the introduction of electronic thermometers, all of which are a product of careless BOM management and analysis. And even over and above that, past temperatures have been adjusted or homogenised downwards — often years after they are recorded — and by secret methods that the BOM will not disclose. I’ll have more information soon on changes at Sydney Observatory, that the BOM don’t make any allowance for.
Looks like another one second record?
The BOM announced the record after Penrith hit 47.1 at 1:55pm, the BOM tweet wrongly claimed it had “broken the all time maximum temperature record for … the Sydney Metropolitan area”. Later, they updated that Penrith was 47.3 at 3:25pm. They did not mention that the observations showed that five minutes after the first “record” at 2pm it was only 46.0, so temperatures fell as much as 1.1C in five minutes. Again, five minutes after the second at 3:30, temperatures fell to 46.5. How long did the 47.3 record last? It might have been just one single second.
Electronic equipment picks up one second noise (like the two stars on the graph below) which the BOM unscientifically converts into tweets and headlines. Other countries average electronic readings over one to five minutes so they can be compared to the older records.
From 1859 until 1990, mercury and alcohol thermometers could not possibly produce “one second records”. For 130 years, they missed all this noise. The BOM may be only scientific institute in the world that doesn’t seem to know the difference between electronic buzz and slowly expanding liquids in glass. And they appear to be working to keep it that way — the comparison data that would show the difference between old thermometers is being destroyed as routine practice.
“All time” is deceptive, misleading erasing history
How many Australians now think today was the Hottest Ever Day in Sydney, making the 1939 heatwave a bit more invisible?
The Penrith Lakes station only started recording in 1995, so this “all-time” record was not necessarily a record for anyone in Penrith over the age of 22. The Sydney Morning Herald claimed it went back to 1859, because that’s when records started at Sydney Observatory.
But there was no official BOM station in Penrith in 1939 or 1896, two notoriously hot years, when it might have been hotter. In 1896 in Kiama, south of Sydney on the coast it was 117F (47.2C). In Camden, 45km south of Penrith they recorded 125F. That’s 50.5C! Naturally, these are not recognised by the BOM — like the scores of other records across Australia that recorded 120 plus in the shade. Were they all wrong?
Even a tweet can fit the phrase “since records began in 1995”. Heck, the BOM could probably find the money for a double tweet if it had to. Shouldn’t all records be reported accurately? Normally the media and twitt-o-sphere adds the baseless hype, not the scientific institutions.
The Fake News Headlines
Sydney Morning Herald
Penrith has sweltered to the highest temperature ever recorded in the Greater Sydney region, on a day of baking heat that saw international tennis cancelled and residents flock to the beach in droves.
The Penrith observation station reached 47.1 degrees just before 2pm, with the Bureau of Meteorology confirming it was the highest reading ever recorded at the station.
That makes it the highest temperature ever recorded in the Greater Sydney region, in records stretching back to 1859.
The SMH and ABC both changed the headline and text after the BOM realized they made a mistake.
The original ABC Headline appears to have been and may have stood for three hours (hard to tell):
The original link (which contains the headline) now redirects to the newer story.
In a mass syndicated snafu, the news that “Sydney sizzles through its hottest day on record” was shared by the MSN.com site, the SMH Facebook page, The Daily Advertiser, The Herald, The West Australian, The LaTrobe Valley Express, The Port Lincoln Times, the Northern Daily Leader, The Penrith City Gazette, The Bendigo Advertiser, and so on and on to scores more outlets… Many of these publications have back edited or altered the stories post hoc sometimes leaving the headline in contradiction to the first line of the story. None of these news outlets did a google search, or a trove hunt for past hottest headlines. The mass of different mastheads gives the appearance of a free press, but all of them speak as one voice when it comes to the BOM.
h/t to Dave B, Andrew, Pat, Scott and Brett.
The B.O.M. with their temperature ‘fact’,
Care not if it isn’t exact,
So long as it spreads,
Through the media heads,
They can later attempt to retract.
Blackouts affect 7000 households in NSW
Hidden among the hottest headlines was a quiet mention:
As temperatures soared across the state, thousands of people were left without power, according to electricity provider Ausgrid.
Power outages across the NSW Central Coast affected more than 4000 properties, while almost 3000 properties were left without power throughout Sydney.
An Ausgrid spokeswoman said while additional load on the network from the high temperatures had contributed to some of the outages, there were several other factors at play.
Ah, the mysterious case of the “other factors”?
#SydneyHeat According to preliminary data #Penrith has broken the all time maximum temperature record for both this station and the Sydney Metropolitan area with 47.1 degrees at 1:55pm. Previous record 47.0 on 11/2/2017. Latest observations: http://ow.ly/7JPd30hCG2o .
To clarify: Previous
#SydneyHeat record of 47.0 degrees on 11/2/2017 was at Richmond. Penrith reached 46.9 degrees on the same day.
This blogger went hunting for the Richmond Record in 1939 that the BOM had missed, but the Climate Online Database doesn’t include it. Data is incomplete at the old Richmond RAAF.
BACKGROUND — Scandal after scandal
- Another BOM scandal: Australian climate data is being destroyed as routine practice
- BOM scandal: “smart cards” filter out coldest temperatures. Full audit needed ASAP!
- BOM scandal heats up: Kininmonth, Watts, Nova quoted in The Australian “We audit banks, why not BOM?”
- Scandal: Australian Bureau of Meteorology caught erasing cold temperatures
- On Sunday, Goulburn got colder than the BOM thought was possible (and a raw data record was “adjusted”).
- Two-thirds of Australias warming due to “adjustments” — according to 84 historic stations
- The mysterious BOM disinterest in hot historic Australian Stevenson screen temperatures
- The lost climate knowledge of Deacon 1952: hot dry summers from 1880-1910
- 1953 Headline: Melbourne’s weather is changing! Summers getting colder and wetter
- The mysterious lost hot Sunday in Bourke, did it really happen?
- Wow, look at those BOM adjustments – trends up by two degrees C!
- Australian BOM “neutral” adjustments increase minima trends up 50%
- Was the Hottest Day Ever in Australia not in a desert, but in far south Albany?!
- Hottest summer record in Australia? Not so, says UAH satellite data
- Mystery black-box method used to make *all new* Australian “hottest” ever records
- BOMs new data set, ACORN, so bad it should be withdrawn (954 min temps larger than the max!)
- Threat of ANAO Audit means Australia’s BOM throws out temperature set, starts again, gets same results
- Australian Temperatures in cities adjusted up by 70%!?