Wimmera extreme heat prompts warnings

WIMMERA employers changed workers’ shifts and campers have been warned to reassess their plans as the region copes with this week’s extreme temperatures.

Hopetoun recorded the highest temperature in the Wimmera on Tuesday with 45.1 degrees at 2.30pm. 

Horsham had reached 43.7 degrees by 4.30pm, while Nhill recorded a top of 44.3 degrees at 4pm.

Business Horsham chairwoman Andrea Cross said the heatwave had affected trade in the city.

“I was down the street earlier today and clearly it’s had a significant impact,” she said. 

“Parking was not an issue, I’ll put it that way.

“I haven’t spoken to any businesses directly but certainly, for our building business, our staff have been starting work at 6.30am to keep out of the heat of the day as much as they can.

“They’ll be doing that for the remainder of the heatwave, so at least we have that opportunity to start early and finish early.”

Mrs Cross encouraged people to keep cool and hydrated and shop early in the morning or later in the afternoon.

“With people finishing work at 5pm, I’d be interested to see if the supermarket is a hive of activity simply because of their cooling system,” she said.

Wimpak Minyip’s head of grain marketing Todd Krahe said staff were on earlier shifts to try to beat the heat.

“Our yard staff have been doing earlier hours. They are starting at 6am and going through to about 3pm,” he said. 

“That will probably be in place for the rest of the week.”

Mr Krahe said the export business had not noticed a huge difference in trade. 

“With the weather, it’s probably a good opportunity for growers to be delivering,” he said.

“Those who still have crops to harvest can’t do it while it’s hot, so it’s a good time to be delivering grain. It’s certainly hot – there are no two ways about it.”

There is little relief on the way, with the hot weather set to continue for the rest of the week. 

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a top of 44 degrees in Horsham on Wednesday. 

Thursday will be another scorcher with a forecast maximum of 44, while a top of 43 degrees with a late cool change is tipped for Friday.

See our gallery of all things hot in the Wimmera here

Victoria’s chief health officer, Rosemary Lester, has issued heat health alerts for the Wimmera and Mallee.

The new alerts are issued when the bureau forecasts temperatures above the heat health thresholds.

Dr Lester urged people to take care of themselves during the heatwave and check on older people, friends and neighbours who might need help.

She said heat-related illnesses could affect anyone.

“The body normally sweats to cool down but sometimes sweating isn’t enough and rising body temperature can lead to heat stress,” she said. 

“The effects of heat-related illnesses can range from mild conditions, such as a rash or cramps to very serious conditions such as heat stroke, which can be fatal.”

Dr Lester encouraged people to drink plenty of water, take cool showers and stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day.

Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries have urged campers and other visitors to reconsider visiting areas where extreme fire danger ratings were forecast.

The department’s agency commander, Gil Marshall, said people could visit www.parks.vic.gov.au to see the latest park conditions and closures.

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