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Meanwhile In Australia, Part Of A Highway Is Literally Melting

For those who have been in the grips of the winter weather buffeting the Northeastern U.S. and Nova Scotia, suffering the throes of bitter winds and whipping snow, there might be some solace in knowing that somewhere in the world, warmth still exists.

In fact, so much warmth exists, it is literally melting a major roadway in Australia.

Police in Victoria, in the country's southeast, warned motorists Friday "to expect delays and to avoid the right-hand lane of the Hume Freeway." The reason? "There is a 10km stretch of road that is melting."

A spokesperson for the department told local media the lofty temperatures hitting the region — upwards of 100 degrees Fahrenheit and climbing — have combined with heavy traffic to reactivate a key ingredient in the road surface, rendering it a sticky muddle in places.

Now it must be noted that while unusual, this phenomenon is far from unheard of.

Back in 2013, the BBC cited at least three instances in the young millennium when roads in the U.K. were reported to have partly melted. And multiple heatwaves in India have melted streets in successive years — including summer 2016, when videos surfaced of pedestrians struggling to just cross the road.

"Asphalt is like chocolate — it melts and softens when it's hot, and goes hard and brittle when it's cold — it doesn't maintain the same strength all year round," an expert in road surface treatments told the British broadcaster.

That's unlikely to comfort locals in Victoria, where some places are expected to see temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday. Authorities have instituted a total fire ban across the state for the day, and its capital, Melbourne, is expected to have its hottest day in nearly two years.

"This heat is a killer," the state's ambulance commander, Paul Holman, told local reporters Friday. "It's going to be like a blast furnace tomorrow and you need to adjust what you do. You need to take care. So put off the sporting events, put off the outside events, stay inside."

It appears local Australians and their snow-besieged comrades on the other side of the globe have at least that much in common: No matter which variety of inclement weather you're facing, it's probably best to stick to indoor activities this weekend.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.

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