Thunder storms, heat to usher in 2021

·2-min read

Much of eastern Australia can expect a stormy start to 2021 as a heat wave bakes the west.

The Bureau of Meteorology is warning of thunderstorm activity from Friday and through the weekend, thanks to tropical moisture from the Coral Sea.

"Heading into the new year, it is looking to be a very active time over much of eastern Australia," said senior meteorlogist Jonathan Low.

"We are looking at pretty widespread storms right across the east, with a real focus around western Victoria, eastern SA and western NSW.

"We're likely to see heavy falls and possibly large hail and damaging winds as well."

The storm activity is not expected to clear until Monday.

But there is some good news, with little risk of the dry lightning that contributed to last summer's devastating bushfires.

"Because there is so much moisture in the air, dry lightning is not going to be such a risk this time," Mr Low said.

Plenty of rain is expected across northern Australia as well.

While temperature records are not expected to be threatened, the mercury will climb into the 40s in western areas of the country.

It will also most likely mean very high to severe fire danger in those areas.

"We're seeing severe to extreme heatwave conditions developing again through central WA into southern parts of the NT and northern parts of SA as well," Mr Low said.

He added that the eastern capitals would mostly have cloudy conditions on New Year's Eve and doubted the weather would affect the Sydney fireworks.

"If you're staying indoors, it might not be a bad thing because you won't be missing out on much," he said.

"It will be quite grey for many (eastern) cities.

"Most likely for Sydney, it's looking to be mostly dry towards midnight but it will be very cloudy.

"(There is) a slight chance of a shower but more likely on New Year's Day."