The Australia Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) is forecasting a heatwave across the northern half of the country this week as firefighters continue to battle bushfires.
The heat began this weekend across northern areas of Western Australia (WA) and the Northern Territory (NT), with some regions experiencing extreme heatwave conditions.
The BoM states: “Low intensity to severe heatwave conditions are forecast from the west coast of WA, across the central and northern parts of Australia and into northern and eastern New South Wales (NSW) for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Over the weekend, firefighters took advantage of improved weather conditions, as winds eased across areas of NSW. The lighter winds also came with increased moisture in the air, which allowed fire crews to carry out back-burning.
The respite is short-lived, however, as the encroaching heatwave will add more fuel to the burning fires.
More than 100 fires were still burning across NSW on Sunday, including the massive Gospers Mountain blaze, which is expected to burn for weeks.
Victoria state has declared a total fire ban for some areas beginning on Monday, ahead of the extremely high temperatures and increasing winds.
Andrew Crisp, the commissioner for Emergency Management Victoria (EMV), said “the hot, dry and windy conditions mean fires could start anywhere and without warning”.
On Tuesday, a number of districts in southern and central NSW are expected to experience severe fire danger. The impending heatwave will see temperatures in some areas, including western Sydney, soar above 40 degrees Celsius.
“It looks likely we’ll see the next big peak day on Tuesday, with a number of districts likely to experience severe fire danger,” said BoM meteorologist Diana Eadie.
The BoM said some inland areas, such as Bathurst and Orange, could see record temperatures for December. Westerly winds could also increase the smoke haze for Sydney and surrounding areas later in the week.
As the heatwave eases across the south of the country towards the end of the week, the chance of rain showers increases.
The BoM’s rainfall outlook for the coming week shows below average rainfall for much of Australia, but showers are expected for coastal areas of NSW and Queensland through Thursday and Friday.