ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - Adelaide sweltered through the highest temperature ever recorded by a major Australian city on Thursday, peaking at a searing 46.6 degrees Celsius (115.9 degrees Fahrenheit) as the drought-parched nation heads toward potentially the hottest January on record.
The South Australia state capital city of 1.3 million people beat its previous 80-year-old record of 46.1 C (115 F) set on Jan. 12, 1939, and records tumbled in smaller towns across the state.
Adelaide's Red Lion Hotel promised free beer if the mercury topped 45 C (113 F) but only while it exceeded that benchmark. Bar manager Stephen Firth said the pub ran dry after giving away more than 700 liters (185 gallons) of beer over more than two hours.
"We probably thought it would come around one day, but we didn't think it would be for such a prolonged period," Firth said.
Adelaide beat the heat record set by Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, of 46.4 C (115.5 F) set in 2009.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Rob Sharpe said he would not be surprised if January becomes Australia's hottest on record with heatwave conditions likely to persist.
Last year was Australia's third-warmest on record.
Heatwave conditions combined with a prolonged drought across much of Australia's southeast have led to scores of major wildfires during the southern hemisphere summer.