NSW residents are being warned to prepare for scorching temperatures this weekend as the mercury climbs to 45 in western Sydney on Saturday, while a state of emergency has been declared for the ACT as bushfire conditions deteriorate.
Victoria and southwestern NSW communities were already sweltering on Friday with Melbourne expecting a top of 43 and Hay in the NSW Riverina set for 46.
The Bureau of Meteorology says the heatwave conditions will stretch further north on Saturday reaching western Sydney with most of inland NSW experiencing above 40-degree days throughout the weekend.
A hot air mass delivered scorching temperatures across large parts of Western Australia before moving east across the country. The severe to extreme heatwave pattern is set to peak in NSW on Saturday.
While the city of Sydney has a maximum forecast of 34 on Saturday, buffered by ocean breezes, Penrith in the far west of the city is forecast to reach 45 while Liverpool and Campbelltown are forecast to hit 42. Canberra is expecting highs of 41 on both Friday and Saturday.
With worsening bushfire conditions forecast for the ACT over the weekend the government on Friday announced a state of emergency for the weekend. A large blaze is burning over 18,000 hectares in Namadgi National Park just south of Canberra, and conditions are the worst they have been since fires ravaged the nation’s capital in 2003.
Timely warning over swimming hazards
Large crowds are expected at NSW beaches, rivers, lakes, and swimming pools as people look to beat the heat. But after three drownings across NSW, Victoria and Queensland on New Year’s Day, authorities are warning people to stay safe when cooling off.
“Special care should be taken when swimming in rivers and dams where submerged objects may pose unexpected risks,” NSW Police Force Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said on Friday.
“I want to send a strong message to parents: if your children are out swimming, whether that is at the beach, a river, a dam or your backyard pool, and regardless of their age – they need to be supervised.”
Residents and visitors to NSW will get some mild reprieve at night but temperatures are only set to bottom in the low to mid 20s.
“The combination of these really warm conditions and also an increase in humidity is going to lead to very warm daytime temperatures and very warm night-time temperatures as well,” BoM meteorologist Diana Eadie said on Wednesday.
Extreme conditions have firefighters on high alert
The high temperatures, along with winds forecast along the NSW coast on Friday afternoon, have firefighters on high alert as blazes continue to burn on the south coast and the NSW-Victoria border.
“In this drought, these fires are just moving so quickly because the landscape is so dry and these winds are pushing them along at unbelievable speed,” Rural Fire Service deputy commissioner Rob Rogers told the Nine Network on Friday morning.
Conditions are expected to cool on Sunday with a southerly change and possible showers or storms developing.
Victorian implored to limit power use as fire danger looms
After calmer conditions earlier this week, temperatures well above 40 degrees, damaging winds and dry lightning are expected to raise the fire threat in Victoria.
The wild weather experienced a week ago is set to return, with Melbourne's forecast 43 on Friday expected to give way to possible storms, flash flooding and muddy rain heading into Saturday.
The increased humidity combined with extreme heat will create tropical oppressive weather that will make Victoria's capital feel more like Darwin, the bureau warned.
Melburnians have been urged to be aware of potential changes to public transport due to the heat, with Public Transport Victoria urging passengers to take extra care.
“With extreme hot weather forecast today and tomorrow in Victoria and Melbourne, please take extra care travelling on the public transport network,” it said Friday.
Meanwhile the Australian Energy Market Operator has urgently called on Victorians to minimise their electricity use on Friday afternoon.
“Today, we’re forecasting the highest electricity demand in Victoria since January 2014, due to extreme temperatures and with unusually high humidity,” the AEMO said this morning.
It is requesting consumers in the state reduce their energy usage between approximately 1pm and 8pm, to help minimise the potential for electricity supply disruptions.
Bushfire-ravaged East Gippsland was already experiencing the effects of the warmer weather change on Thursday evening, as an emergency alert was issued for a blaze that threatened lives and homes. The alert has since been downgraded to “watch and act” level.
Rain expected to sweep through Victoria by Saturday and Sunday will not be spread evenly around the state, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, so will be of little help to firefighters.
The elevated fire conditions have prompted a total fire ban for all state regions except Gippsland and the northeast. Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said current blazes are expected to become more active and there is a high risk of new fires starting.
“We do have some dormant areas that we expect, with the drying out over the next 24 hours, the potential for those fires to again get a bit more active,” she said.
Adelaide to be hit with downpour while Tasmania swelters
After a week of extreme heat with temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s accompanied by sticky nights, South Australia is set for a tropical downpour in the next 48 hours.
The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting between 20mm and 80mm of rain across much of the state, and potentially up to 100mm in isolated areas on Friday and Saturday.
“Motorists are advised that the onset of rainfall today is likely to result in slippery roads, and heavier showers from midday will reduce visibility making driving conditions dangerous at times,” the BoM warned Friday morning.
Meanwhile Tasmania will endure unusually high temperatures before it is hit with rain as the mercury is tipped to hit 40 degrees in the south of the state on Friday, including Hobart.
The summit of Hobart's Mt Wellington and surrounding park areas, plus walking tracks at Freycinet National Park, are off limits due to the hot conditions.
Showers and rain are forecast to cross Tasmania on Friday evening, but a cool change won't bring substantial relief until Saturday morning.
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