Heatwave conditions will reach extreme levels in Australia’s southeast over the next four days as a “hot air mass” brings temperatures set to nudge 45C in parts of New South Wales.
The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a streak of maximum temperatures above 30C in inner Sydney and up to nine degrees warmer in the west including Penrith, Liverpool and Campbelltown.
Sydney will swelter over the Australia Day public holiday on Tuesday, hitting 34C in the city and 40C in the western suburbs. A reprieve is not expected until Wednesday.
“The region of expected extreme heatwave conditions has expanded across southeastern NSW and into northeastern Victoria,” the bureau said in its heatwave forecast from Saturday.
“Severe heatwave conditions are expected in the surrounding regions across eastern and southern South Australia, southwestern Queensland, much of NSW (excluding the northeast), Victoria and northeastern Tasmania.”
Sky News Weather meteorologist Alison Osborne said a high pressure system over the Tasman Sea is pushing warm air towards the southeast “where millions of Australians live”.
“The heat and winds intensify during Saturday and Sunday and with little overnight relief, it’s likely we will see very oppressive heatwave conditions, severe to extreme,” she said.
“By Sunday, temperatures in the mid 40s are likely to bake anywhere from eastern South Australia, northern Victoria and also western New South Wales.”
The BOM has forecast a high of 42 or 43C in Griffith from Saturday to Monday, 44C in the NSW Riverina town of Hay on Sunday and Monday, and 44C in Deniliquin to start the week.
OUR BODIES ARE ‘LESS PREPARED’
Monash University climate scientist Dr James Goldie told news.com.au on Friday that while this heatwave might not bring record-breaking temperatures, it has been a “really cool” summer so far due to La Nina.
This hot weather could therefore come as a bit of a shock to the system.
“When we get exposed to heat day after day, and we get rest in between, it kind of prepares our bodies for extreme heat,” Dr Goldie said.
“Our hearts get stronger, our blood vessels open up and we’re kind of practised at heat stress. That helps us as summer goes on usually to handle the next heatwave.
“We’re a little bit less prepared than usual and when the bureau says that it’s a severe or extreme heatwave, they’re taking that into account as well.”
While the major cities may not experience the temperatures in the mid 40s, hot nights in the low 20s are on the cards for Sydney and Canberra.
As a public health researcher, Dr Goldie said a good night’s sleep during hot weather is important for muscle restoration and memory reconciliation.
“That’s all stuff that can get disrupted if you’re trying to sleep when it’s too hot or too humid,” he said.
“You want to be ready for round two (in the daytime).”
He told news.com.au La Nina will “probably keep a lid on things for the next month or two” but there is always the chance of another heatwave.
“Heatwaves are absolutely getting worse overtime. We’re seeing them more often and they’re getting more intense because of climate change, because of the greenhouse gases we’re putting out,” he said.
NSW Health is encouraging residents to have a plan to “#BeatTheHeat” while the “area of concern” for the NSW Rural Fire Service is around the state’s Riverina region due to hot, dry and windy conditions.