Australia endures hottest day on record with more to come

Heatwave has fuelled fires across the east of the country

(Image credit: (Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images))

Australia has endured its hottest day on record with the national average temperature soaring to a high of 40.9C (105.6F).

As the nation battles a severe drought and bushfire crisis, the Bureau of Meteorology said “extensive” heat yesterday tipped the mercury past the previous record of 40.3C set on 7 January 2013.

"This hot air mass is so extensive, that preliminary figures show that yesterday was the hottest day on record in Australia," meteorologist Diana Eadie told the Sydney Morning Herald.

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The premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, has warned the state is facing a “difficult few days” with forecast conditions likely to cause havoc with large, uncontrolled fires burning across the state.

The record is also set to be broken again, with forecasters predicting the most intense heat would come later in the week. The small outback town of Oodnadatta in South Australia is forecast to peak at around 47C (116.6F) today.

With the heatwave expected to move to South Australia during the next few days, it will also hit Victoria and Queensland.

Temperatures are predicted to be as much as 20C above average this year, with sparsely populated areas potentially exceeding 50C.

Recent hot weather has fuelled fires that have been ravaging Australia’s east for weeks, says Sky News. Six people have died in the fires, while more than 680 homes have been destroyed and around three million acres of bushland burned.

Stuff says that global warming is causing heatwaves to be “hotter, drier, more likely to occur and longer-lasting, and fires are becoming more likely to grow into large blazes and exhibit extreme behaviour that makes them difficult to control”.

Meanwhile, The Guardian says the Australian wine industry is suffering “ominous” start to the growing season, due to the conditions in South Australia and Victoria. The industry fears that grapes could become tainted by smoke.

“I think there’s a good chance they will have smoke taint,” said one expert. “They are looking to be the most affected of the major wine growing regions.”

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