'50-degree days possible' as week of extreme heat hits Australia

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

Australians are about to swelter in record-breaking temperatures with a long, dry period of extreme heat to set in over the coming days.

The temperature may even surge above 50 degrees and threaten the 59-year-old national record of 50.7, with several consecutive days of intense heat forecast.

Perth is suffering first with a top of 41 expected for Friday and Saturday, while Sunday should reach 40.

Then as the heat moves east it should intensify. Adelaide is set for days of at least 40 degrees from Tuesday to Thursday.

The heatwave will spread to northern Victoria and southwest NSW, Weatherzone meteorologist Jessica Miskelly said.

Crowded St Kilda Beach in Melbourne on a hot day. Source: AAP

“Adelaide is going to be most affected, it’s forecasted to have three or four consecutive days of over 40 degrees,” Ms Miskelly told Yahoo News Australia.

Australian temperature record threatened

“Further north in areas like Port Augusta and inland are looking at three or four days in the mid 40s, that’s where there would be a possibility of having a day over 50 degrees.”

Ms Miskelly said it was extremely rare to have such high temperatures so early on in December, and especially for several days in a row as is predicted for next week.

“This heat is very unusual this early in the season, having four days over 40 degrees in December is not normal,” she said.

Weather events on both ends of the spectrum becoming more extreme and regular could be explained by climate change, Ms Miskelly said.

“If you look at historical climate records, this is definitely not normal.”

Australia’s hottest day was recorded in 1960 when Oodnadatta in South Australia reached 50.7. That record was challenged in 1998 when Mardie in Western Australia recorded 50.5.

Australia high temperature records (BoM):

  • 50.7, Oodanatta, South Australia, January 2, 1960

  • 50.5, Mardie, Western Australia, February, 19, 1998

  • 49.7, Menindee, NSW, January 10, 1939

  • 49.5, Birdsville, Queensland, December 24, 1972

  • 48.8, Hopetoun, Victoria, February 7, 2009

NSW and Victoria to warm up too

While South Australia will bear the brunt of the heat, NSW and Victoria will not escape completely unscathed.

“There won’t be as much heat for Melbourne and Sydney due to the sea breeze, but inland areas will get a bit hotter,” Ms Miskelly said.

Sydneysiders hit the beach at Bondi on a hot day. Source: AAP

She said on Wednesday and Thursday both capital cities would reach their peak heat, with Melbourne’s highest temperature set to be 33 degrees.

“Just north and inland areas of Victoria will be in their high 30s and low 40s. It will be similar in Sydney on Wednesday and Thursday with temperatures in their low 30s expected in metro areas.”

Areas west of the city are expected to be a bit hotter, Ms Miskelly said, with the worst of the heat expected to cool before next weekend.

National weekend forecast

This Saturday will see moderate temperatures in their high 20s in Sydney, while Sunday will be slightly warmer with a top of 30. Areas in the west could soar into the high 30s on Sunday.

Melbourne will be cloudy and hover in the mid 20s throughout this weekend, with Adelaide much the same but a bit warmer with a top of 29 expected on Sunday.

There will be a few showers in Brisbane on Saturday which should clear by Sunday, with the temperature expected to remain in the low 30s both days.

Similar conditions are expected in Darwin where a top of 35 will combine with some showers and cloud.

More sizzling 40 degree days are on the cards for Perth, which is predicted to have a top of 40 on Saturday and 41 on Sunday.

Showers and temperatures around the 20 degree mark are expected in Hobart, while sun and 31 degrees is predicted on Saturday and Sunday in Canberra.

A new climate report suggested 50 degree days could become the norm in summer for Melbourne and Sydney by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue rising at their current rate.

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