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Sydney endures hottest Australia Day since 1960

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Sydney has endured its hottest Australia Day in 60 years as residents swelter through a summer heatwave.

Data from Weatherzone shows today is the hottest January 26 since 1960 after the mercury hit 37.1C at 12pm.

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Sydney Airport recorded a temperature of 40.2C at 1pm.

“Sydney has also achieved its hottest spell in 10 years, averaging a maximum of 33.5 degrees for the last five days. Most of western Sydney west from Bankstown has been averaging 36-39 degrees but had a hotter five-day spell last summer,” Sam Brown from Weatherzone said.

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“The very hot airmass is being drawn from inland across the region ahead of a low pressure trough moving in from the west.”

Thankfully today is forecast to be the last of a five-day heatwave.

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“This Australia Day marks the last day of heatwave conditions which has scorched parts of NSW,” the Bureau of Meterology’s Agata Imielska said.

A maximum of 36C was predicted in the city today as thousands flocked to beaches and into the city for planned Invasion Day protests.

“It’s not just a one-off day of heat, the sort of heat on its own wouldn’t be a worry for most people but its been a spell of building heat and it’s probably starting to take its toll for some people,” meteorologist from Weatherzone Brett Dutschke told nine.com.au.

Elsewhere, parts of Queensland are also expected to swelter while a new wave of heat begins in Western Australia.

An aerial view of Bondi Beach on January 23, 2021 in Sydney, Australia
An aerial view of Bondi Beach on January 23, 2021 in Sydney, Australia © Getty

While a cool change has arrived for South Australia and Victoria, several states remain on high alert today.

“As that cool chance moves through we will see temperatures cooling and some light shower activity,” Ms Imielska said.

“But the key message is today is still a dangerously hot day. It’s really important people take the right protective actions.”

Ambulance services have urged people to remain vigilant and look out for friends and relatives.

People gather at Bondi Beach this week
People gather at Bondi Beach this week © Getty

“We’re getting an increased amount of activity as a result of heat related conditions, anything from heatstroke to collapse and the heat playing havoc with people with pre-existing conditions,” NSW Ambulance Inspector Giles Buchanan said.

Dangerous surf conditions and crowded beaches are adding to the concerns of emergency services after more than 250 rescues were conducted on Sunday.

“We’re having an increased number of calls to drownings, we’ve had 47 drownings or near drownings since Friday which is a devastating number,” Mr Buchanan said.

New South Wales Surf Life Saving (NSWSLS) has predicted today to be “the most operationally challenging days that we’ve had in the last five years,” NSWSLS member Matt Spooner said.

“The sun is hot, the surf up and surf lifesaving resources are being tested.”

Surf conditions are remaining rough today due to strong winds around the NSW coast, particularly around the Sydney and Illawarra region.

The BoM has warned of “unpredictable conditions” with dangerous currents and large swell for several areas.

“For anyone considering going out on the water we are expecting those sea breezes to be stronger than usual,” BoM meteorologist Agata Imielska said.

People have been warned to take extra precautions to protect themselves from heatwave conditions and dangerous surf.

“Our clear message to people on the coast is alcohol and swimming do not mix,” Mr Buchanan said.

“Please, we want to make sure everyone comes home to their loved ones safe after a busy Australia Day and our life savers are not put in harms way.”

Here’s how the heat could impact your state this Australia Day:

New South Wales and ACT

Heatwave conditions are forecast to reach their peak across NSW today, with the hottest temperatures forecast in Sydney’s west.

“Today will be the hottest day over the five day hot spell for the Sydney area,” Mr Dutschke said.

“In Sydney far western suburbs get past 40C today, could get as hot as 41C in some places.”

 An aerial view of Bondi Beach on January 23, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast severe heatwave conditions for most of NSW with temperatures expected to top 40 degrees Celsius in Sydney's Western Suburbs over the weekend.
An aerial view of Bondi Beach on January 23, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast severe heatwave conditions for most of NSW with temperatures expected to top 40 degrees Celsius in Sydney’s Western Suburbs over the weekend. © Getty

“Those temperatures will be as much as 10C or 11C above average, so it’s noticeably hotter than normal.”

“Given that it’s likely to 35C today, it’ll be a maximum average of at least 33C for the last five days and that’s effectively going to be the hottest spell in ten years.”

Penrith was 40C yesterday, looking to be 41C today. Richmond and Campbelltown are among many of the places are likely to get into the forties, along with much of northern NSW.

 Beach goers are seen at Kyeemagh Beach Baths on January 24, 2021 at Botany Bay in Sydney, Australia
Beach goers are seen at Kyeemagh Beach Baths on January 24, 2021 at Botany Bay in Sydney, Australia © Getty

The central western slopes and plains will be above average today with daytime maximum temperatures between 35C and 40C in most parts.

Further inland, Dubbo is set to reach 38C just behind Bourke 39C.

Canberra will we well above average with sunny conditions and a top of 35C. There is a high chance of showers in the ACT this afternoon with the chance of a thunderstorm in the early evening.

Queensland

The heatwave has eased for most parts of the state however western Queensland is in for another day of severe heat.

“The hottest area will be Western Queensland where it’s getting to into the low forties that includes Birsville and Windora.”

Brisbane will be hot with a top of 30C however this is less than 1C above average for January.

Western Australia

While the heat is set to ease for the eastern parts of the country, it’s only just beginning for the west with WA forecast to swelter through a low to moderate-intensity heatwave from today.

The hottest part of the country is expected to be Pilbara today where temperatures are set to soar above 43C.

“This heatwave its losing intensity and from here on its just going to be confined to northern NSW and Western Queensland for the next few days and become low intensity whereas in Western Australia, there’s a heatwave just beginning in the north west of the state and that will extend down parts of the west coast over the next several days,” Mr Dutschke said.

Perth is likely to dodge the extreme conditions this week however next weekend could bring temperatures well into the mid to high thirties.

South Australia and Victoria cool down

After four days of severe conditions, a southerly change has arrived in the south of the country causing temperatures to plummet.

“The heatwave is effectively over for South Australia and Victoria. A cooler change has come through and they’ve had some rain so it’s well and truly over,” Mr Dutschke said.

After temperatures reached around 37C on Sunday afternoon, the mercury reached 38C in some parts of Victoria by 10:30am on Monday.

In Melbourne, Laverton recorded the city’s hottest temperature, reaching 41.5C at 12:40pm.

A cool change that began in the state’s south-west was not expected to reach Melbourne until 5:00pm, but moved quickly to arrive much sooner than forecast.

The temperature at Avalon dropped by 10C in the space of an hour.

Cool and drizzly conditions are expected for Melbourne today with maximum temperature of 22C while Adelaide is unlikely to get hotter than 24C.

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