Highs of 49 degrees forecast for extreme Australia heatwave

Fire, danger, health and air quality warnings have been issued across the country

People ride the Beach House water slides during hot weather at Glenelg beach in Adelaide, Australia. Photograph: Kelly Barnes/EPA

People ride the Beach House water slides during hot weather at Glenelg beach in Adelaide, Australia. Photograph: Kelly Barnes/EPA

 

Australia’s post-Christmas heatwave continues to sweep across the country, with a near record-breaking 49 degrees forecast for Western Australia, and fire danger, health and air quality warnings issued across the nation.

On Thursday morning, the bureau of meteorology forecast a scorching 49 degree maximum for Marble Bar and Pannawonica in the Pilbara region of WA – only 2 degrees below the highest temperature ever recorded in Australia, which is 50.7 degrees at South Australia’s Oodnadatta airport in 1960.

By 8.40am on Thursday Marble Bar had already recorded 43.4 degrres, with the worst of the heat to come.

The extreme heat is stretching across WA, SA, Victoria, New South Wales and parts of central Queensland. Temperatures in the south are 10 to 14 degrees higher than average, the bureau said on Wednesday.

On Thursday SA will swelter through widespread 40 degree temperatures, with Adelaide forecast for a maximum of 41 degrees and 46 degrees for Port Augusta and Coober Pedy.

In Sydney the city centre is expected to reach 29 degrees, with 39 degrees for Penrith in the west. Further inland, Dubbo is slated for 42 degrees and the Riverina region for 44 degrees. At the weekend Sydney temperatures are forecast to reach 32 degrees on Saturday and 34 degrees on Sunday.

Air quality warning

Melbourne is forecast to experience a maximum of 36 degrees on Thursday, while further across Victoria, Mildura can expect 44 degrees and Albury-Wodonga 42 degrees.

On Thursday NSW Health issued an air quality warning for Sydney as ozone levels began to rise with the extreme heat.

NSW Health’s executive director, Jeremy McAnulty, said ozone exposure irritated the lungs, so people with asthma and other sensitivities should take extra care.

Severe to extreme fire danger warnings have also been issued for large parts of WA, SA and Victoria.

And, according to the bureau’s latest forecasts, there is no end to the heatwave in sight.

From Friday to Tuesday, low to severe heatwaves are still predicted for parts of every mainland state and territory – from the north-west coast of WA to central Queensland, to the south coast of Victoria. The extreme heatwave conditions forecast to hit WA, NSW and SA will abate. – Guardian Service