Temperatures have surpassed 40 degrees across New South Wales (NSW), with the season’s first heatwave bringing elevated bushfire and health risks.
Parts of Sydney have broken the 40-degree barrier and swathes of western NSW are baking through even higher temperatures as the state experiences its opening summer heatwave.
In the first stint of elevated temperatures since the catastrophic 2019-20 bushfire season, parts of inland NSW are set this weekend to hit 45C.
Most of Sydney—including the CBD—will also push 40C on Saturday and Sunday as strong northwesterly winds hold back the sea breeze.
Bureau of Meteorology Manager Jade Golding said records for warmest overnight minimums in some parts of NSW likely tumbled on Friday night, while daytime records could also fall this weekend.
NSW and Sydney will swelter until at least late on Sunday afternoon, when a gusty southerly comes through and cools temperatures for Monday.
“It’ll be a really long, uncomfortable night (on Saturday) and then a really long hot day and then a really windy southerly change,” Golding said. “The body doesn’t really get much respite, it’s quite hard.”
Temperatures across NSW would then spike again on Tuesday as heatwave conditions again envelope inland areas. Southeast Queensland would also likely experience elevated temperatures from Monday.
Relief from the heat may not arrive again until Thursday.
Golding said the weekend swelter would likely spur bushfire concerns, with the Rural Fire Service forecasting severe danger across southern NSW regions including the Riverina.
She said fires would be fuelled by strong grass growth over a rainy winter.
One blaze at Myrtle Park, east of border town Deniliquin, is currently at “watch and act” level as it burns out of control across 800 hectares.
RFS Deputy Commissioner Peter McKechnie has urged people to have fire plans ready and prepare properties.
“This is the first time since the devastating season last year we’ve seen widespread elevated fire danger,” he said on Friday.
Last summer’s bushfires destroyed 2476 homes and claimed 26 lives.
NSW Ambulance Inspector Kay Armstrong told reporters on Saturday paramedics were dealing with increased call-outs and urged people to avoid the worst of the heat.