Daunting map shows Australia's impending heatwave reality

Yahoo News Australia and agencies

Australians are collectively sweltering as the heatwave sweeping across the nation brings temperatures of up to 14 degrees above average into most states and territories.

On Tuesday, Adelaide copped a maximum temperature of 42.1 degrees – the first of four successive days over 40 predicted for the South Australian capital. At 6pm it was still over 38 degrees.

On the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula at Ceduna it was a scorching 46.5 degrees on Tuesday, and will be 43 each day through to Friday.

Adelaide’s heatwave will peak at 44 on Friday before the temperature is set to drop to 25 on Saturday.

That heatwave follows three consecutive days of the mercury sitting above 40 degrees in Perth.

A Bureau of Meteorology map forecasts most of Australia will experience mid-30s to 40s temperatures on Wednesday at 5pm (AEST).
Most of Australia is set to swelter as a heatwave moves across the country as seen on this map, which shows the forecast for Wednesday at 5pm (AEST). Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Heatwave moving towards eastern states

By Wednesday, as the heat moves east, most of Australia is forecast to have low to severe heatwave conditions, with extreme intensity forecast in parts of South Australia, Central Australia, the Kimberley and parts of NSW and Victoria.

Jane Golding, from the Bureau of Meteorology, says the extreme heat affecting South Australia and western border regions will reach the ACT and the south coast on Wednesday.

Cars are seen parked at Aldinga Beach in Adelaide on Tuesday. A heatwave spreading across Australia is expected to see parts of the nation swelter. Source: AAP Image/David Mariuz
Cars are seen parked at Aldinga Beach in Adelaide on Tuesday. A heatwave spreading across Australia is expected to see parts of the nation swelter. Source: AAP Image/David Mariuz

It will move northwards to areas including Wollongong, the Sydney metropolitan area, the Blue Mountains, Newcastle and Dubbo from Thursday.

Later this week, parts of Victoria NSW and ACT will see temperatures exceed 40 degrees.

Melbourne is meant to reach a top of 39 degrees on Wednesday, dropping down to 23 degrees on Thursday, before climbing back up to 41 on Friday.

Sydney will reach 39 in the city on Thursday but in the western suburbs, it will be 43 at Richmond and 44 at Penrith respectively, close to where firefighters are battling a huge bushfire northwest of Sydney. It will cool down briefly on Friday before it is hot again on Saturday with 45 expected in the west of the city.

In the western half of NSW those temperatures are expected to climb above 45 while Canberra is bracing for a forecast temperature of 43 on Saturday.

"For the ACT we're looking at five days in a row above about 37 degrees. Three of those days will be in the low 40s, so severe to extreme heatwave conditions," Ms Golding said.

Most of Australia will suffer through a low intensity heatwave, while parts of WA, South Australia, Victoria, NSW and ACT will have extreme heatwave conditions. Source: Bureau of Meteorology.
Most of Australia will suffer through a low intensity heatwave, while parts of WA, South Australia, Victoria, NSW and ACT will have extreme heatwave conditions. Source: Bureau of Meteorology.

She expected some annual and December weather records would be broken over the course of the week.

"Australia's warmest day on record occurred in January 2013, when the average maximum temperature across the continent was 40.3C," climatologist Dr Blair Trewin said on Monday.

"We're closely monitoring the development and progression of this heat but, based on current forecasts, we could see that record broken this week.”

On Monday, Queensland recorded its equal warmest December day, with 41.2 degrees.

Some parts of Queensland can expect a cool change, while out west, like in Birdsville people should brace for a top of 47 degrees on Wednesday, with the mercury sitting in the mid 40’s for the rest of the week. It reached 46.1 at Birdsville on Tuesday.

Total fire ban for NSW through to Saturday

Ms Golding warns with the rising temperature comes more difficult conditions for those battling fires around Australia.

In NSW a statewide total fire ban starts midnight Tuesday and runs through to midnight Saturday. There are 109 fires still burning across the state.

"With the heat comes fires so we're expecting some particularly tricky days for the fire response on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday," Ms Golding said.

On Wednesday, NSW has a total fire ban in place across the state. Source: AAP Image/Dean Lewins.
On Wednesday, NSW has a total fire ban in place across the state. Source: AAP Image/Dean Lewins.

Doctor warns brains can be damaged by the heat

The Bureau also warns people stay up to date with the latests forecasts and watch out for any warnings from the Bureau and fire services.

People should also follow the advice from health authorities and keep an eye out for vulnerable family and friends in the sweltering heat.

On Tuesday, a Queensland doctor issued a warning about the array of illnesses one can suffer during a heatwave.

"When people think of heat related illnesses they think of heat stroke," Kathyrn Woolfield with Doctors for the Environment Australia said.

"That is where you basically heat up from the inside and this can have lasting injuries to the brain in extreme cases."

During a heatwave some people may suffer adverse reactions to their medication if they are outside for too long, and asthmatics may be more at risk, due to the dust particles in the air.

Dr Woolfield said it’s important to keep hydrated, take breaks in the shade if you’re working outside and talk to your GP during heatwaves.

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