Adelaide’s CBD has seen temperatures soar to 41C on Thursday as south eastern Australia sweats its way through 36 hours of “intense heat”.
At 2.30pm Adelaide’s CBD reached its forecast high for the day and is likley to keep on climbing. Further inland, Port Augusta touched 44.7C, Ceduna 45.5C and Nullabor 46.2C at 1.40pm.
On Friday, Melbourne is set to hit 42C, a figure a climate expert has called a once in a decade heat event.
Away from the country’s south, parts of New South Wales including Sydney are sweltering through day 10 of a heatwave. Meanwhile the cyclone season is in full swing in Queensland with Cyclone Penny looking like it will make a handbrake turn and come straight back towards the coast.
But for the next couple of days the focus is on South Australia and Victoria. Forecasters have warned that “very intense heat” is on its way over the next 36 hours which could stress electricity systems and, as the winds whip up, elevate fire danger levels.
Sky News Weather channel meteorologist Tom Saunders said an approaching cold front was heading east from Western Australia’s southwest. But ahead of that front, temperatures were set to peak, exacerbated by scorching desert air being pushed down from the interior.
“Today we’ll get surface temperatures in northern South Australia of well above 45C — in some areas that’s 15C above average,” he told news.com.au.
Adelaide reached 41C on Thursday, Murray Bridge 42C and Port Augusta 45C.
— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW)
“Tomorrow will see the hottest temperatures over Victoria and western NSW where we are expecting some maximum temperatures above 45C.”
If Melbourne reaches 42C on Friday, as currently forecast, it will be the city’s hottest day for three years, he said. Speaking to the ABC, University of Melbourne climate scientist Dr Andrew King said that would be “a one in 10 year heat event” for the city.
With Melbourne only expected to reach 28C on Thursday, it will be a massive, albeit brief, climb into the 40s.
However, inland cities are set to have a hot Thursday too with Bendigo on 37C rising to 44C on Friday, Wodonga 40C today and 44C on Friday, and Mildura 41C followed by 46C.
And then the heat will vanish. First for South Australia, then for Victoria.
“The cold front will hit the South Australian coastline overnight on Thursday. Adelaide will get some relief tomorrow morning and then cool further by Saturday,” Mr Saunders said.
The city will go from 41C on Thursday, to 35C on Friday and then a mere 26C on Saturday.
That change will be even more dramatic in Melbourne where the change is due to hit late on Friday afternoon. The 40C Friday will turn into a high of just 22C on Saturday.
Melburnians could see a drop of between 15 to 20 degrees in just one hour on Friday afternoon as the cold front careers through.
“There will be gusty winds but not much rainfall as it will be a mostly dry change.”
Bendigo will see a high of 27C on Saturday, Mildura 29C and Wodonga 34C.
Hobart will jump from 28C on Thursday to a blistering 36C on Friday and then 21C on Saturday.
Parts of Sydney are sweltering through the 10th day of a heatwave which kicked off on Christmas Day in the city’s west. And it’s set to continue until Sunday.
The CBD will see 28C today followed by 31-33C into the weekend and then 25C on Sunday as NSW finally sees the effects of the cold front.
It’s much warmer in Penrith, in the city’s west, with 39C for Friday and Saturday and then 28C on Sunday and into the working week.
In Queensland, it’s all about the latest tropical cyclone.
“Penny could strengthen into a category 2 cyclone over the next few days. It may make a right hand turn back towards the coastline and could bring heavy rain and flooding impacts for central Queensland early next week,” Mr Saunders said.
The cyclone’s future path and whether it will indeed strengthen is not certain but the models should firm up in the coming days.
Perth is on a very reasonable 25C for the next couple of days rising to 35C by Sunday.
The nation’s capital will see 3C on Thursday with a possible storms and then 37C on Friday, 35C on Saturday and dipping to 28C on Sunday.