Australia to be scorched by once-in-125-year heatwave as bushfires continue to burn

Australia is set to be scorched in a blistering heatwave this week that could break a 125-year record. 

Melbourne will experience two days of early summer as it begins to heat up on Wednesday, before hitting one of its hottest November days ever with temperatures forecast to reach 39C on Thursday.

The heat will continue overnight, with temperatures staying in the high 20s to low 30s on Wednesday evening.

‘For Melbourne, the last time it reached 39 degrees was in 2012 and the all time record for November is just over 40,’ Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Richard Carlyon said.

‘Normally at this time of the year we start to see some summery weather with temperatures reaching the mid 30 degrees, but it is unusual to see them into the high 30s,’ 

This sudden heat will be especially tough in the northern part of Victoria, where northerly winds will leave temperatures well over 40C both on Wednesday and Thursday. 

These scorching days, affecting all of Victoria, prompted the CFA to declare a total fire ban for the Mallee region on Wednesday.

‘Tomorrow’s hot and windy conditions could make it difficult for firefighters to suppress a fire should one start, therefore we are asking people to take heed of the Total Fire Ban conditions,’ state duty officer Craig Brownlie said.

‘People need to be aware of the increased fire danger and ensure your fire plan covers all possible contingencies.’

The ban is forecast to be lifted by Thursday.

In Queensland, temperatures are set to soar to mid-to-high 30s near some of the major bush fires on Wednesday, and some parts of the state’s interior will hit 40C.

The sweltering temperatures will only increase the fire danger, as more than 70 fires are still burning across the state.

Firefighters are facing weeks of testing conditions, with no forecast of significant rain until January.  

Firefighters in Queensland face weeks of testing conditions as temperatures continue to rise, with no significant rain in sight until January

A total of 16 homes have been lost in the recent fires, but that figure will rise with firefighters confirming homes were lost in the Pechey fire north of Toowoomba.

Fires of primary concern include the Pechey blaze, a cluster of fires in the Border Ranges region, from Cunninghams Gap to Mount Barney and Mount Lindsay, and one on Moreton Island.

Residents who fled Crows News were allowed to return home after an emergency alert was downgraded.

Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio is fearful of the weather conditions ahead, saying his community is facing dangerous times.

Residents are currently on water restrictions while work continues to restore power to pumps at the city’s main reservoir after it was cut by fire.

South Australia is also facing horrific fire conditions, with the danger level raised to ‘catastrophic’ across most of the state. 

More than 100 schools will be closed, as well as national parks and reserves, as Adelaide braces for a 42C day, while the temperature is expected to hit 45C at Murray Bridge, 44C at Renmark, Port Augusta, Port Lincoln and Whyalla, and 43C at Port Pirie.   

The hot temperatures will be accompanied by strong winds and possible dust haze.

Seven districts have been labelled catastrophic fire danger zones – including the Mount Lofty Ranges and Mid North near Adelaide – while two were rated ‘extreme’ and six ‘severe’.

CFS assistant chief officer Brenton Eden said emergency services would spend the day on high alert.

‘We don’t take seven catastrophic fire danger warnings lightly – that is as bad as it gets,’ he said.

‘That means when a fire starts it’s not possible for us to control it, so it places the community at great risk.’

The CFS has eleven fixed wing aircraft available for firefighting, including one from New South Wales, but windy conditions may prevent them from flying. 

The Bureau of Meteorology said several November heat records could fall, including Adelaide’s hottest November day of 42.7C set in 1962.

SES chief of staff Graeme Wynwood advised the public to take simple steps for health protection during the hot weather.

‘Make sure you are drinking plenty of water (on Wednesday) and keeping cool by avoiding going out in the heat of the day,’ he said.

A total fire ban will be in place across the state.

Canberra is facing an unusually hot spring, with the temperature not expected to drop below 30C until Sunday, with a high of 39C forecast for Thursday.  

The Australian Capital Territory will face a ‘very high’ fire danger for the entire week.  

Darwin will also swelter under 35 degree heat, with expected storms to bring little relief. 

In Hobart, things are looking cooler, with a forecast high of 23C on Wednesday, and 30C on Thursday, with some showers predicted. 

The temperature will drop, but still be above monthly averages, from Fridays, where the mercury is expected to drop to the low 20s.

Sydney is expected to escape Wednesday’s heatwave, after suffering through an oppressive Tuesday where temperatures came close to 40C in the city’s west, with air quality among the worst in the world due to a blanket of bushfire smoke. 

On Wednesday, the city will experience a more pleasant 25C, with some rain possible over the weekend. 

In Perth, temperatures are not expected to exceed 21C, with some rain expected. The mercury will rise into the 30s over the weekend.