Much of Australia’s southeast is set to endure at least two warm nights in a row as the first widespread heatwave of 2021 sets in.
Severe conditions have hit South Australia – including Adelaide – and regional Victoria on Sunday, with some regions copping temperatures above 40C.
The rest of Victoria, Tasmania and western and southern parts of NSW will likely see the hottest temperatures on Monday, while the mercury will climb the highest on Tuesday for eastern NSW and Greater Sydney.
In NSW on Sunday afternoon, temperatures reached 40C in Sydney’s west and 43.2C at Hay in the state’s western Riverina region.
Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Gabrielle Woodhouse said heat records were unlikely to tumble over the coming days and people across SA, Victoria and NSW were unlikely to sleep easy.
“The important part with the heat we’re seeing is those overnight temperatures remaining particularly warm,” Ms Woodhouse told reporters on Sunday.
“Over parts of the southern inland in particular, we’re looking at (overnight) temperatures anywhere in the high 20s, even touching 30C … so very warm.”
Ms Woodhouse added that the heat – including overnight temperatures – was unlikely to subside in NSW until Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
On Australia Day on Tuesday, temperatures would fall to between 38C and 41C in western Sydney and around 32C in the city due to a sea breeze. Canberra is also forecast to swelter, reaching the mid-30s before an evening shower.
“What we’re seeing with this heatwave is multiple days of those really high maximum and minimum temperatures which can be quite difficult to manage when we haven’t had a history of that this summer,” Ms Woodhouse said.
A cool change is expected to move east across Victoria on Monday afternoon, dropping temperatures by 10 to 15C within an hour and sparing the state a third straight day of sweltering conditions on Tuesday.
Until then, overnight temperatures are tipped to hover in the high 20s for most of Victoria including 27C in Melbourne.
“We’re looking at an oppressive night,” meteorologist Michael Efron told reporters on Sunday.
While winds are not expected to be as high as previous days of extreme fire danger, several districts in southeast Australia remain on high alert for blazes.
A fire weather warning is in place on Sunday for South Australia’s mid-north, Mount Lofty Ranges, Yorke Peninsula and lower southeast districts.
Victoria’s Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country, North East, East Gippsland and North Central districts are all subject to total fire bans on Monday, with a forecast wind change putting crews on high alert.
A marine wind warning is also in place for large stretches of the NSW coast on Sunday and Monday, with Ms Woodhouse warning of northerly gusts.
In Tasmania, a very hot day is forecast for Monday, with temperatures hitting the mid-30s across much of the island’s east and south. However, a cool change is expected to reach Hobart around midday.
NSW Ambulance’s Kay Armstrong told reporters on Sunday that Australians needed to stay hydrated and look out for each other during the heatwave.
Of particular concern to Victorian paramedics is a spate of 24 call-outs for people locked in cars since Thursday, including two on Sunday.
“It is unacceptable to leave anyone or a pet … in a car,” Ambulance Victoria’s Justin Dunlop said.
“It only takes minutes to kill.”
The heatwave also has lifesavers on high alert, with Surf Life Saving NSW chief executive Steven Pearce saying this is “probably the weekend we’ve been looking out for”.