Spencer, IA: (Jan. 06, 2014) – While residents of Iowa and Minnesota shiver in sub-zero January temperatures, a searing heat wave is baking central and northern Australia, piling more misery on drought-hit cattle producers there.
Temperatures have topped 104 degrees in large parts of Australia’s key ag areas, with the mercury topping out at a sizzling 118 degrees last week in the Queensland town of Birdsville.
Queensland is home to half of Australia’s cattle herd. Beef producer Charles Burke says grazing cattle in the Outback have been severely affected due to scant water and diminishing feed supplies. Burke says the “drought is shaping to be an absolute disaster.”
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology on Friday said Australia has endured its hottest year since records began in 1910, with temperatures 4 degrees (F) above the long-term average. Climate scientists are concerned because the aberrant temperatures occurred not in an El Nino year, but a “normal” year.