An exceptional heatwave is heading across south eastern Australia. Picture: Sky News Weather channel
An exceptional heatwave is heading across south eastern Australia. Picture: Sky News Weather channel

‘Severe’: Why this heatwave is different

Forecasters have warned that both spectators and players could be at risk at the Australian Open as a huge heatwave sweeps across southern Australia just in time for the first serve.

But this heatwave is different; it's covering a larger area - hitting five capitals - and it's sticking around for longer. Maximums well into the 40s in the major cities, and as high as 46C in regional centres, will stick around like a hot sticky broken record.

Canberra is forecast to have its most intense heatwave in five years, with four consecutive days above 39C. Adelaide and suburban Sydney will also suffer with several days above the 40C mark, possibly touching 45C in parts.

"A severe-to-extreme heatwave has been occurring over the southeast interior for a few days already, but today it is spreading to Adelaide, inland Victoria and parts of Tasmania. From Tuesday it will include Sydney and pretty much all of New South Wales as it intensifies in the ACT," said Sky News Weather channel meteorologist Rob Sharpe.

"This is getting into very hot territory and that heat just lingers."

Expect humid days and uncomfortable nights.

"This heat is already record breaking, with Borrona Downs, in far north west NSW, recording the state's hottest minimum temperature for any month. The mercury only dropped as low as 34.6C, beating the previous record of White Cliffs set in 2017 of 34.2C."

An exceptional heatwave is heading across south eastern Australia. Picture: Sky News Weather channel
An exceptional heatwave is heading across south eastern Australia. Picture: Sky News Weather channel

CONSECUTIVE DAYS ABOVE 40C

Hot winds from central Australia and the Pilbara are being funnelled toward south eastern states this week supercharging summertime temperatures.

Adelaide's 39C high on Monday will just be a taster for the 41C max on Wednesday. Some nights this week might not get cooler than 24C.

Canberra is looking at 35C today, 39C on Tuesday and then Wednesday and Thursday topping out at 40C.

Melbourne's two day streak to Tuesday topping out at 35C seems positively cool by comparison.

Nonetheless, the Bureau of Meteorology is worried about Victorians. It has warned: "The UV forecast is extreme so be careful out there. Stay cool, keep hydrated, and look out for the vulnerable".

News has even reached London, with Britain's equivalent of the BOM, the Met Office, cautioning in a tweet that "exceptional heat" in Melbourne could pose a risk to people at the Open.

It will be toastier in the state's regional cities - 44C in Bendigo on Wednesday, 46C in Wodonga.

A vast tract of Australia, from Broome to almost Brisbane and from Alice Springs to southern Tasmania, is officially in heatwave.

A heatwave is declared when both day time highs and night time minimums over a three-day period exceed normal conditions for that time of year.

A "severe" heatwave, which is defined as being a challenge for the vulnerable, stretches across much of South Australia, Victoria, NSW, the ACT and Tasmania engulfing or skirting close to Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Hobart and Sydney.

From midweek onwards an "extreme" heatwave, which can be a health issue for just about anyone and can compromise infrastructure like railway lines and the grid, will plonk itself on central and coastal parts of NSW and the ACT.

 

The lighter purple areas above are temperatures in excess of 45C, as hot air gets sucked down from central Australia to the southern and eastern states. Picture: BSCH.
The lighter purple areas above are temperatures in excess of 45C, as hot air gets sucked down from central Australia to the southern and eastern states. Picture: BSCH.

PUNISHING HEAT IN NSW

Sea breezes in Sydney should pull the highs down to between 31-33C for much of this week with night-time lows of around 22C.

Not so out west though. Richmond, at the foot at the Blue Mountains, will be as tinder dry as Adelaide with four consecutive days of highs of 41C plus from Wednesday. Penrith could see a blistering high of 43C on Friday.

"The top temperatures in Sydney (CBD) are not as hot as earlier this summer, but nights will be hotter and humidity will be much more substantial, likely making this event feel more intense," said Mr Sharpe.

"This is evident in Penrith where maximum temperatures will rise into the 40s from Tuesday to Saturday as nights stay above 20 degrees."

Broken Hill, in the far west, is already feeling the heat. A high of 44C on Monday will rise to 45C on Tuesday where the mercury will stall until the end of the week. Not great weather for clearing all those dead fish out of the nearby waterways.

Dubbo, Tamworth, Bathurst, Wagga, Albury - all will see highs in the mid-40s. The only relief in NSW will be close to the coast.

"On Wednesday a cool change will drop temperatures a bit but the proper cool change starts to come in on Friday. But hot gusty winds with elevated fire danger will come ahead of the cool change," said Mr Sharpe.

In NSW, that cooler weather isn't due to come through until Sunday which will be the first day with a high below 30C this week.

For Adelaide temperatures will dip to 35C on Thursday, then 32C and into the 20s for the weekend. Melbourne will be in the low-30s for the end of the week and then the low-20s for the weekend with possible rain.

 

QUEENSLAND, THE TERRITORY, WA AND TASMANIA

Elsewhere, Brisbane will see identical sunny days at a far more manageable 32C all week with similar conditions up the coast to Cairns, but with the odd shower.

Darwin is 32C with the chance of storms for most of the week. Perth will be sunny and stay around 30C but the mercury could shoot up to 36C or even 38C on the weekend.

Heading down to Tasmania a summery 25C on Monday in Hobart will rise to 29C on Tuesday. In Launceston expect 34C midweek. Cooler than the mainland for sure, but still unusually high this far south.



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