Urgent bushfire warnings as Australia swelters through extreme heatwave
Australia’s extreme weekend heatwave has begun, with temperatures set to soar past 40C and increase the risk of bushfires in some states.
The Bureau of Meteorology has dubbed it “the most significant heatwave of the season yet” and said it will impact millions of Aussies.
Fire warnings are currently in place, extending from South Australia to parts of Victoria and NSW.
“On Saturday, severe to extreme fire dangers will continue in South Australia and extend into northern Victoria and parts of New South Wales,” BOM Meteorologist Jonathan How said on Friday.
“On Sunday, very high to severe fire dangers are forecast for eastern New South Wales and southeast Queensland, these forecasts are subject to change.”
Increased risk of bushfires in NSW
The high temperatures will bring elevated bushfire risks not seen in NSW since the devastation of last summer.
Temperatures are set to top 40C across the west and in coastal areas.
The southwest will experience the worst of the fire conditions on Saturday, before the sweltering weather moves through Sydney, the Hunter Region and north coast on Sunday.
NSW Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Peter McKechnie has urged people to have a fire plan ready and prepare their properties.
"This is the first time since the devastating season last year we've seen widespread elevated fire danger," he said on Friday.
"Know what to do if a fire threatens you, know where you'll go."
Last summer's bushfires destroyed 2476 homes, claimed 26 lives and burned 5.5 million hectares of land.
Sydney is forecast to hit 39C on Sunday, while some records are expected to be broken in western NSW.
A cooler gusty change is tipped to cross the state on Sunday and into Monday, but temperatures are expected to rise again on Tuesday.
Heat brings fire bans for northern Vic
Mildura could break its November temperature record as scorching conditions prompt a total fire ban for northern Victorian areas.
The north-west town is forecast to reach 45C on Saturday - its previous record for the month was 45.5 in 2012.
Swan Hill is forecast to hit 44C and Echuca is expecting 42.
But the heat wave will only impact the north of the state, with Melbourne tipped to reach 28.
The Country Fire Authority has declared bans for the Mallee, Wimmera and Northern Country regions.
Gusty winds are also forecast, particularly in the north-west, plus thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening.
"The Mallee District will reach an extreme fire danger rating for the first time this season due to the forecasted gusty winds and increased grassland curing in the area," CFA Acting Chief Officer Alen (Alen) Slijepcevic said.
"Northern Country and Wimmera will also experience elevated dangerous fire conditions, with a severe fire danger rating.
"As a result, we have declared a total fire ban across all three weather districts."
Cooler conditions are expected on Sunday, but another temperature spike is forecast for next Tuesday.
South Australia still experiencing ‘extreme danger’
Meteorologist Jonathan How warned severe to extreme fire dangers will continue in South Australia on Saturday.
Around much of the state, it is expected temperatures will soar past 40C.
While Adelaide can expect temperatures of 29C, places like Woomera and Roxby Downs will experience temperatures of up to 47C on Saturday, before dropping to around 30C.
A fire warning is in place for South Australia’s North West Pastoral, North East Pastoral, Eastern Eyre Peninsula, Flinders, Mid North, Mount Lofty Ranges, Yorke Peninsula, Riverland and Murraylands forecast districts.
“Very hot and windy with north to northwest winds 30-45 km/h ahead of a squally southwest to southerly change 40-55 km/h during the afternoon and evening,” BoM said.
“Winds possibly stronger for a short period following the change about northern Spencer Gulf and northwards.”
Though there is a chance of afternoon thunderstorms in the northern agricultural area and south of the pastoral districts.
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