Australian states in the heavily populated south-east are experiencing record high temperatures during an unseasonably hot autumn, prompting fire bans and warnings from authorities.
This week has already broken state records in South Australia, as well as New South Wales and Victoria, where they could be reset again on Wednesday.
The north of Western Australia had record high temperatures for late March, said Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Blair Trewin. That hot air is now hitting the south-east.
“On Monday we had the highest April temperature ever recorded in South Australia – 42.2C at Nullarbor Roadhouse, and yesterday we had state records for both Victoria and NSW,” he said.
In Victoria it reached 39.3C in Mildura on Tuesday and 40.5C at Pooncarie, NSW.
The previous records for each state were 42.1C at Oodnadatta in 2005, 37.8C at Mildura in 1986 and 40C at Collarenebri in 1922.
In the capital cities on Wednesday, Adelaide was forecast to reach 36C and Sydney 28C, climbing to 31C on Thursday. Melbourne had a forecasted high of 26C. Canberra, which saw a one-in-10-year high on Monday, could expect a top of 31C.
While Wednesday was shaping up to be “as hot or hotter” than Tuesday in parts of the three states, Trewin said it was likely to be the last of the most extreme phase, at least for areas away from the inland regions.
In north-west Victoria temperatures were expected to reach the mid-to-high 30s with gusty winds, prompting total fire bans in Mallee and Wimmera.
“The lingering record heat, plus the stronger winds tomorrow, mean the fire danger is once again elevated for the Mallee and Wimmera,” the Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Tom Delamotte said.
In South Australia the Country Fire Service warned the continuing high temperatures and gusty winds would be among the worst conditions experienced in April.
Severe conditions were declared for nine districts with extreme conditions expected in the Mount Lofty Ranges.
“If a fire starts, it may be that we have to wait until weather conditions abate before we actually get control of that fire,” the CFS assistant chief officer, Rob Sandford, told the ABC.
“There is a change moving across the state which is moving quite slowly. Ahead of that, we’re going to see very hot, dry, windy conditions that are going to put a number of areas of the state at risk.”
The Australian Energy Market Operator said it was confident of electricity supply to the state, despite increased pressure as a result of the heatwave.
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