Latrobe Valley is a hot spot

LATROBE Valley residents endured some of Gippsland’s highest temperatures over the past week, with the mercury up to five degrees more than central and east Gippsland over the five days leading up to Wednesday.

The summer’s longest heatwave, in which maximum temperatures recorded at Latrobe Regional Airport’s weather station remained above 31.5 degrees Celsius for nine days straight, came to a welcome end yesterday as a moderate cool change swept through the region.

Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Adrian Fitzgerald, who is based at the Sale RAAF base, said the Valley had been between one and five degrees hotter than Sale and Bairnsdale due to its inland position.

“The Latrobe Valley is a little warmer because the sea breeze doesn’t penetrate to you guys as much there,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

He said while afternoon easterly sea breezes would cool down coastal towns, the Valley’s distance from the ocean, and position behind the Strzelecki Ranges, meant the Valley did not enjoy any cooling effects experienced by other Gippsland towns.

According to a BOM climatologist, the last time the Valley recorded a similar autumn heatwave at its Latrobe Airport site, which was established in 1988, was a six-day stretch of plus 31 degree temperatures in March 2008.

In response to the prolonged heatwave, Ambulance Victoria said it had rostered additional paramedics on over the last few days, to cope with increased demand.

“The number of calls paramedics have been to in the last few days is certainly up, with the workload (yesterday) increasing by about a quarter compared with two weeks ago when it was cooler,” state operations manager Paul Holman said. Despite the Valley’s higher temperatures, a Latrobe Regional Hospital spokesperson said it had not recorded any extra admissions with heat-related conditions.