Australia: Heatwave grips NSW, Queensland

Large parts of New South Wales and southern Queensland are currently in the grip of a heatwave, bringing with it an extreme risk of fires, health warnings due to prolonged heat exposure, and the potential for destructive storms. Sydney is forecasted to experience temperatures of 34°C, while areas further west, such as Penrith and Richmond, could reach 36°C, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

The forecast also includes a potential for destructive storms over the weekend, similar to those experienced in southeast Queensland and northeast NSW on Friday night, with Brisbane recording wind gusts of 169 km/h. NSW Ambulance anticipates an increase of 300 emergency calls per day in the coming months due to the heat, advising people to stay indoors when possible and limit physical activity to the early mornings.

The heatwave spans an extensive region from southeast Queensland to south of Sydney, with some areas in the NSW northwest slopes expected to reach 40°C on Saturday. Inland regions of Western Australia are also facing high temperatures in the mid-40s, as per Bureau forecasts.

The NSW Rural Fire Service has declared total fire bans for Saturday in various regions, including greater Sydney, the state’s northwest, the northern slopes, the central ranges, greater Hunter, and the Illawarra and Shoalhaven region. While over 50 bush and grass fires were reported across the state, they are currently under control or being managed.

Angus Hines, senior forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, emphasized the elevated temperatures, especially in northeast NSW and southeast Queensland, with above-average temperatures during both day and night. Winds of 20-40 km/h are expected in fire-prone areas, heightening the fire risk.

In southeast Queensland, overnight temperatures were 5°C above average, with humid conditions and the potential for additional storms on Saturday and Sunday. Destructive storms hit the region on Friday night, bringing heavy rainfall and strong winds. The heatwave is anticipated to ease starting Tuesday, according to Hines.

NSW Ambulance is preparing for a 10% rise in triple-zero calls, translating to an extra 300 emergency calls daily. Authorities have reminded residents of the increased risk of dehydration and heat-related conditions, advising them to seek shade, stay hydrated, and wear loose-fitting, sun-protective clothing.

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