2009 Heatwave


Victoria experienced an extreme heatwave when temperatures exceeded a record-breaking 47 degrees for several days and this, together with the tinder-dry countryside, provided the catalyst to horrific bushfires, starting on 7 February 2009, which lasted almost three weeks and killed over 200.


In our southern cities, heatwaves like that experienced during 28-30th Jan 2009 can cause more than 200 premature deaths and financial losses of at least ~$0.8bn. The frequency of this sort of event is expected to double by 2030, and triple by 2070. Adaptation through better planning, urban design and renewal to actively reduce heat stress in built environments and improved community preparedness could reduce the impacts of one of these events by about 50%, saving ~$400m each time (CSIRO, 2010).


The economic cost of the 2009 heatwave is estimated at $AUD 800 million due to power outages and transport disruptions, resulting in 25% of metro train services being cancelled, rail lines buckling, bitumen on major highways bleeding, concrete slabs lifting and cracking and traffic signals malfunctioning. In addition, port facility productivity declined through vessel delays and reduced crane capacity. Furthermore, the analysis of such extreme events generally finds that post-event actions most likely result in only marginal improvements in resilience to such events unless a systematic and structured response, as recommended by the inquiring committees, is adopted (Chhetri, Hashemi, Basic, Manzoni & Jayatilleke, 2012).


Table 15: Total Quantifiable Private loss (2009 Heatwave)

Type of cost

Amount (million $)


Total ($)

Power outages, transport service disruptions and response costs


CSIRO, (2010)