Australia could hit 50 degrees Celsius on the weekend, a feat which would rewrite the history books for December temperatures.
The top of Western Australia is no stranger to blistering days, but the relatively small number of locals in the country's northwest will be looking for a place to cool off in the coming days.
A lack of cloud cover and a broad and stagnant area of low pressure is allowing hot air to build over central Australia, according to Weatherzone meteorologist Ben Domensino.
In the coming days, the heat is expected to settle around the Pilbara, Kimberley and North Interior districts with temperatures pushing 50 degrees.
"It's possible," Mr Domensino said, referring to the half century being notched. But if it happens, it's unlikely to be captured by weather-recording instruments.
"In that part of Australia the weather station network is pretty sparse," he told Yahoo News.
"If temperatures do get to 50ºC, we might not see it in the official recording of the day ... We'll have to wait and see where the warm airs lands."
Port Headland, south of Eighty Mile Beach, is forecast to hit 47 degrees on Sunday. While it's likely too close to the coast to reach 50, if the sea breeze is slow to materialise, the site could see its December heat record of 47.9 topple. That number has stood since 1954.
"It is getting quite close to a record-breaking temperature for this time of year," Mr Domensino said.
Australia has never recorded 50ºC in December
There has never been a 50ºC recorded in December in Australia. The highest temperature recorded in the month was 49.9 at Nullarbor in South Australia in 2019.
Australia has hit the 50 mark on only a few occasions. Most recently, the mercury reached 50.5 at Mardie Station in Western Australia in February 1998. Before that, South Australia's Oodnadatta saw back-to-back days over 50 in 1960.
Western Australia is the one state to have already seen bushfires this summer with blazes in Margaret River ripping through 5,200 hectares earlier this month.
With warm temperatures moving south next week, there will be little reprieve from the fire-friendly conditions.
"This is the time of year we see heat and bursts of wind exacerbating the fire risk," Mr Domensino said, adding there would likely be "a period of increased fire risk in the southwest".
Burst of heat for the east
Conditions are also set to heat up for eastern states as summer finally arrives.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) warned of very hot conditions in the northwest of NSW in the coming days and along the borders with Queensland and Victoria, where temperatures could hit 40 degrees on Saturday.
"Hot conditions this weekend will be the first burst of summer heat most of the NSW has seen since last summer," BoM Manager NSW & ACT, Agata Imielska, told Yahoo News on Tuesday.
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