Extreme temperatures are expected in South Australia, Victoria, NSW and the as the heatwave moves east. Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Hellish heatwave is hitting Australia. A state of emergency has been declared in New South Wales, Australia, amid fears a record-breaking heatwave will exacerbate the state’s bushfire crisis. More than 100 fires continue to burn in New South Wales (NSW). Three capital cities – Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra – are expected to experience temperatures up to 40C as an intense December heatwave continues across Australia.

After three days of record-breaking temperatures, Australia is set to finish the week before Christmas facing temperatures well into the 40s across most of the country today.

Bushfires have been raging in Australia for months, killing six people, destroying hundreds of homes and burning millions of hectares of land.

The crisis, worsened by tinder-dry conditions from a severe drought, has spurred criticism of Australia’s climate policies.

Two bushfires have been escalated to emergency level, with almost 100 burning elsewhere.

A fire burning out of control in Green Wattle Creek, southwest of Sydney, is one of two fires at emergency warning level on Thursday afternoon.

It is feared at least 40 homes and structures have been destroyed by the blaze.

Three firefighters are also being treated for burns sustained while battling the fire.

Sydney suburbs without water

Parts of Sydney have been left without water, as temperatures approach 40C.

Sydney Water said a burst water main is affecting the southern suburbs of Peakhurst, Peakhurst Heights, Lugarno, Beverly Hills, Narwee and Riverwood.

One resident said he had been told it could take 12 hours to restore the supply.

“Our crews are responding to a burst water main that is affecting water supply to customers in the area. We will restore the supply as quickly as we can,” Sydney Water said on its website.

Sydney Water told 9News: “Water is slowly starting to return to customers in the affected area.

“We hope to have repairs complete this evening.”

The NSW government has activated the State’s official Heatwave Sub Plan ahead of what is predicted to be another day of searing temperatures.

During yesterday’s sweltering conditions, the rural community of Nullarbor in South Australia set the record for the country’s highest December temperature, reaching 49.9C.

As the weekend approaches, emergency crews are preparing for what is expected to be another day of scorching hot weather with several states and cities forecast to set new records again today.

NSW

Sydney will be slightly cooler today with a maximum of 26, although areas further inland will see temperatures reach well above 40C.

The highest forecast temperature is forecast in Griffith, which could peak at 46C later in the afternoon.

ACT

The 39.3C that Canberra sweltered through on Thursday to set the capital’s hottest December day might come a close second if the capital reaches its forecast top of 41C today.

Temperatures are expected to remain extreme on Saturday and a fire weather warning has been issued for the state.

Victoria

Another scorching day awaits Victoria after the heatwave caused chaos yesterday, with roughly 3000 people losing power.

Melbourne is forecast to hit 44C today. The last time it climbed that high in December was 1876.

Temperatures could reach 12C above average for Mildura with a maximum of 47C today, potentially breaking December records for the area.

Paramedics were called to 14 reports of children locked in vehicles yesterday. Twelve were in the metropolitan area, one was in the Barwon South West and one was in Loddon Mallee region.

Fortunately, no one required treatment.

Ambulance Victoria is urging people not leave children and pets in cars.

Extreme fire danger is in place for Wimmera and the South East while a severe fire danger warning has been issued for Mallee, Northern Country, North Central and Central Victoria.

A total fire ban has been declared for all of Victoria today.

South Australia

South Australia is expecting some of the extreme conditions today with three separate weather warnings being issued for the state.

Adelaide has a forecast maximum temperature of 46C while other areas including Renmark and Whyalla may reach up to 48C.

A warning for catastrophic fire danger due to hot and windy conditions has been issues for the Lower Eyre Peninsula, Mid North, Mount Lofty Ranges, Yorke Peninsula, Kangaroo Island and Lower South East.

The rest of the state is under extreme or severe fire danger for the rest of the day.

Adelaide could also be set for its hottest December day today, with an upgraded forecast of 46C.

Queensland

Brisbane is looking to be between 20C and 33C today however a fire weather warning has been issued for other parts of the state.

Hot and dry conditions combined with fresh east northeasterly winds will result in severe fire dangers for the Darling Downs and Granite Belt, Central Highlands and Coalfields, and the eastern parts of the Warrego and Maranoa districts on Friday.

Longreach, Mount Isa, Thargomindah and Charleville are all expected to hit above 40C today as the heatwave continues.

Western Australia

Perth will cool down today as the heatwave moves east across the country.

A top of 25 is predicted for the city ahead of slightly warmer temperatures over the weekend.

Inland areas including Broome and Giles have the highest temperatures for Western Australia forecast to peak at 37C and 42C in the late afternoon.

Northern Territory

Darwin has a high chance of thunderstorms later today with a maximum temperature of 35C.

The south of the state could see higher daytime temperatures above 40C in Borroloola, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs.

All-time temperature record broken again

Australia endured its hottest-ever day on Tuesday, but that record was smashed again on Wednesday – which saw an average maximum of 41.9C.

Tuesday’s 40.9C had eclipsed the previous record of 40.3C, set in 2013.

Authorities in the NSW are currently fighting about 100 fires, in a crisis that has lasted months.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a seven-day state of emergency due to forecasts of worsening conditions.

“The biggest concern over the next few days is the unpredictability, with extreme wind conditions [and] extremely hot temperatures,” she told reporters on Thursday.

Parts of NSW, of which Sydney is the capital, hit temperatures in the early 40s on Thursday. More intense heat was forecast for the rest of the week.

A state of emergency gives fire authorities additional powers to cope with the crisis. It is the second such declaration in NSW since last month.

The Bureau of Meteorology (Bom) said individual December temperature records had been broken in a number of places – with temperatures in the southern city of Adelaide hitting 45.3C.

Nullarbor, also in southern Australia, reached the scorching temperature of 49.9C.

A lot of outrage on social media has also been directed at Prime Minister Scott Morrison for going on an overseas holiday during the emergency.

According to local media, he is in Hawaii with his family.

Some 500 people on Thursday protested outside his Sydney residence, demanding action on climate change.

The heat-hit began this week as a mass of hot air swept east across the continent.

The dominant climate driver behind the heat has been a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), an event where sea surface temperatures are warmer in the western half of the ocean, cooler in the east.

The difference between the two temperatures is currently the strongest in 60 years.

The warmer waters cause higher-than-average rains in the western Indian Ocean region, leading to flooding, and drier conditions across South East Asia and Australia.

Australian politicians have faced criticism recently for failing to link the bushfire crisis to climate crisis.

The science around climate change is complex – it is not the cause of bushfires, but scientists have long warned that a hotter, drier climate would contribute to Australia’s fires becoming more frequent and more intense.

According to BoM, Australia has warmed overall by slightly more than 1C since 1910, with most of the heating occurring since 1950.

Officials predict that 2019, on the temperatures recorded so far, will be among the four warmest years on record.

Heatwaves are Australia’s deadliest natural disaster and have killed thousands more people than bushfires or floods.

Officials have warned that the combination of high temperatures and strong winds could heighten the crisis.

Two major fires are currently burning near the outskirts of Sydney, including a “mega blaze” which has burnt over 400,000 hectares.

Smoke from the fires blanketed Sydney again, pushing air quality beyond “hazardous” levels in parts of the city.

A statewide “total fire ban” has been put in place across NSW until midnight on Saturday.

Emergency services in the state of Queensland evacuated residents from dozens of homes on Wednesday as they battled to contain an out-of-control fire.

Australia claims 14 of the 15 hottest places in the world

As Australia sweltered through its hottest day on record, Australia has claimed another heat-related milestone – playing home to 14 of the 15 hottest places on earth.

Data measured by El Dorado Weather and The Bureau of Meteorology suggests a village in Botswana, Africa, was the only place in the world with higher recorded temperatures on Wednesday.

The nationally averaged maximum daytime temperature was 41.9 °C exceeding the record set on Tuesday – 40.9 ºC.

Queensland claimed the second, third and fourth hottest places in the world at Birsdville Airport, Urandangi and Bedourie, while South Australia came in with five of the top 15.

Fitzroy Crossing, Marble Bar, Curtin and Mandora in Western Australia made the list, alongside Wulungurru and Jervois in the Northern Territory.

World’s hottest places on December 18

  1. Pandamatenga (Botswana) – 49°C
  2. Birdsville Airport (Queensland) – 47.7°C
  3. Urandangi Aerodrome (Queensland) – 47.5°C
  4. Bedourie (Queensland) – 47.5°C
  5. Fitzroy Crossing Aero (Western Australia) – 47.4°C
  6. Wudinna Aero (South Australia) – 47.3°C
  7. Marble Bar (Western Australia) – 47°C
  8. Curtin Aero (Western Australia) – 46.8°C
  9. Mandora (Western Australia) – 46.8°C
  10. Jervois (Northern Territory) – 46.6°C
  11. Tarcoola Aero (South Australia) – 46.6°C
  12. Ceduna Airport (South Australia) – 46.5°C
  13. Port Augusta (South Australia) – 46.4°C
  14. Wulungurru (Northern Territory) – 46.4°C
  15. Marree Aero (South Australia) – 46.3°C

The BoM forecaster Simon Timcke said heat which has been building in the middle of the country is moving south, creating the extreme heat.

The heatwave will only continue to intensify, with southern and central Australia experiencing temperatures up to 16C above average by Friday.


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