2019 Australian Open: Fans, players to endure hot start as new heat stress scale is introduced
By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
January 13, 2019, 11:11:06 AM EST
The new Australian Open Heat Stress Scale will quickly be utilized as dangerous heat is expected to build for the start of the annual tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, on Monday.
The comfortable conditions from the weekend are not anticipated to last for the first round of play on Monday and Tuesday.
Temperatures are expected to soar to around 36-37 degrees Celsius (96-99 degrees Fahrenheit) these days, when a high of 25 C (77 F) is more common.
Blazing sunshine will beat down on fans and players on Monday. While some clouds may filter overhead on Tuesday, an increase in humidity will make this day the hottest of the tournament’s first week.
AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures can peak at around 39 C (102 F) during Tuesday afternoon.
Players and fans will have to ensure they are staying properly hydrated amid the impending heat. Wearing light clothing and taking breaks out of the scorching sun are other ways to avoid suffering from a heat-related illness.
Sunscreen will also be a necessity for the tournament's opening days.
Officials at the Australian Open have also taken steps to ensure player safety following calls from players to review the tournament's extreme heat policy.
A new policy is being introduced this year that takes into account the newly developed AO Heat Stress Scale (AO HSS).
The AO HSS has five levels that are calculated based on air temperature, strength of the sun, humidity and wind speed, according to the tournament’s official web site. Such factors are similar in determining the AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature.
The higher the RealFeel® Temperature and level on the AO HSS, the harder it is for a player’s body to cool itself.
The AO HSS also accounts for the “physiological variances between adults, wheelchair and junior athletes,” the statement read.
Organizers of the Australian Open did not provide precise temperatures or conditions that equate to the different levels on the AO HSS, but the readings will be measured in real time at five different locations across Melbourne Park.
Players will be given extended breaks when a 4.0 is registered on the AO HSS prior to or during a select number of sets, based on which group is playing. The tournament referee can suspend play on outside courts and decide to close the roofs on the major courts when a level 5.0 is recorded.
The intense heat is not anticipated to hold for the first full week of play. Temperatures should gradually be trimmed back Wednesday into Thursday.
Looking ahead to the first weekend of play on Jan. 19-20, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls anticipates nice weather for players and spectators.
"Temperatures are likely to be normal or slightly below normal these days, with highs mainly in the low to mid-20s C (70s F)," he said.
Heat may come surging back during the middle of the following week.
"It is unclear whether the heat at that time will be intense enough to impact play, but it certainly looks uncomfortable for players and spectators that are out," Nicholls said.
The finale of the tournament, however, should feature dramatically different weather than its start.
"The heat should wane in time for the final weekend of play (Jan. 26-27), with temperatures back to around normal," Nicholls added.
Download the free AccuWeather app to find out more detailed information on the weather anticipated for the 2019 Australian Open.
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