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Heatwave engulfs Australia as La Nina weakens

Understanding heatwave warnings

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

A wave of heat is about to wash across Australia, with temperatures topping 50 degrees in some parts of the country.

North-western Australia is expected to bake in near-record temperatures this weekend, while it will also be warm in the eastern states – and dangerous flash flooding is on the cards for some regions.

Temperatures could rise to 50 degrees in parts of the west Pilbara district in Western Australia as a break in the monsoon is allow an intensely hot air mass to build up.

“We have a whole lot of hot air being drawn across the country ahead of a trough, which is a fairly typical summertime pattern,” Weatherzone meteorologist Jessica Miskelly told The New Daily.

On Monday, the temperature at Learmonth Airport soared to 46.1 degrees – making it the hottest place in the world so far in February 2023.

Weatherzone said if 50 degrees was recorded at an official weather station later this week, it would be only the second time it had happened in Australia during February. The other time was 50.5 degrees at Mardie, also in the Pilbara, on February 19, 1998.

Meanwhile in the east, it’s a race against time to contain bushfires ahead of the looming heatwave.

Overnight a fire north of Miles, north-west of Brisbane, grew from 30,000 to 46,000 hectares. Temperatures in the area are expected to be about 35 degrees until at least next week.

Heat reaches a peak

Ms Miskelly told TND temperatures would peak in South Australia on Thursday, and then in Victoria and Tasmania on Friday.

On Thursday, Adelaide reached a top of 38 degrees, while there were temperatures in the low 40s in SA’s north.

It will be cooler in Adelaide on Friday, with 27 degrees forecast and temperatures in the 20s throughout the weekend.

As for Melbourne, it is forecast to reach 35 degrees on Thursday and Friday. Much of Victoria will be subject to a low intensity heatwave on Thursday, Friday the Bureau of Meteorology said.

Hobart can expect 29 degrees on Friday. The BOM has issued a severe heatwave warning for the Furneaux Island District.

Pictured are the heatwave conditions expected across Victoria.

Much of southern Australia will experience a heatwave in coming days.

Western Sydney to feel the heat

Up north, the heat will hit on Saturday, Ms Miskelly said.

Sydney is forecast to reach just under 30 degrees on Friday, with 32 forecast for Saturday. Western Sydney could get close to 40 degrees on Saturday, Ms Miskelly said.

Temperatures in the 30s could persist past Saturday for Canberra and parts of Western Sydney, she said.

North-west inland NSW could expect some of the hottest weather in coming days.

“In those regions, we’d be expecting to get up into the low 40s,” she said.

A major change was expected for eastern NSW on Monday or Tuesday, bringing showers and storms and temperatures in the mid-20s, Ms Miskelly said.

Moderate fire risk across Queensland.

Those heatwave conditions are just poking into southern inland Queensland.

Ms Miskelly said the “redeeming” feature in southern inland Queensland as bushfires burned was the conditions. While it will be hot, it should be humid.

“So fire dangers aren’t massively high, even though the temperatures are high,” she said.

“The winds are also relatively benign. So weather wise, it’s not as bad as it could be.”

The weather bureau has a moderate fire risk listed for most districts in Queensland in coming days.

Queensland bushfires

Efforts continue in the battle to contain bushfires in Queensland’s Western Downs.

The Darling Downs and Granite Belt region have a high fire risk on Thursday and Sunday. Queensland’s central-west region also has a high fire risk on Thursday, as does Channel Country on Friday.

There were multiple emergency warnings for residents to the north of Miles, north-west of Brisbane, on Thursday.

They warn a large, fast-moving fire is travelling from Welshs Road and L Tree Creek Road towards the Leichhardt Highway.

There was a second warning for the Hookswood Pelham Road area for a large fire burning within containment lines between Ryalls Road and Gearys Road.

Fire crews across Queensland remain on alert and many people have already lost their homes Western Downs region.

Elsewhere, residents in far north Queensland and west in the Gulf Country have been issued with heavy rainfall and flash flooding warnings as a monsoon trough and embedded low make landfall.

The region was battered on Wednesday night with totals peaking at 136 millimetres in Daintree Village and the deluge is forecast to continue as rainfall tracks across the Gulf of Carpentaria into the North Tropical Coast.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued warnings for coastal areas north of Normanton and around Mornington Island, the Gulf Country and the North Tropical Coast on Thursday and into Friday.

Flood watches and warnings have been issued for Burketown, Mornington Island, Normanton, Cairns, Port Douglas and Hope Vale.

The bureau said a monsoon trough would combine with a south-easterly surge moving northward along the east coast to enhance rainfall about the North Tropical Coast.

Heavy rain that could spark flash flooding is expected in western coastal communities, with totals of up to 150 millimetres.

In the northern tropics, heavy rainfall and potentially life-threatening flash flooding is forecast, with six-hour totals nearing 200 millimetres.

In the west, Perth can expect temperatures in the low 30s during the weekend, with Sunday the hottest with a top of 34 degrees.

Pictured is the Pilbara region

Temperatures could reach 50 degrees in WA’s Pilbara region.

La Niña weakens

In its most recent Climate Driver Report, the BOM said La Niña was weakening.

While oceanic indicators, including sea-surface temperatures, have weakened to ENSO-neutral values, the atmosphere has been slower to respond and remains La Niña-like,” it said on Tuesday.

“Even as La Niña weakens, it can continue to influence global weather and climate.”

All models anticipate sea-surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean will continue to warm, but levels will remain neutral until at least autumn.

-with AAP

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