Australia faces hottest spring in history; temperatures forecast to break records

Temperatures in Australia are projected to reach as much as 16 degrees Celsius (60 Fahrenheit) higher than the average for September

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Reuters
A surfer rides a wave past a crowd of people at the beach as parts of Australias east reached their hottest day in more than two years amid temperatures which rose to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), in Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia, March 6, 2023. — Reuters/File
A surfer rides a wave past a crowd of people at the beach as parts of Australia's east reached their hottest day in more than two years amid temperatures which rose to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), in Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia, March 6, 2023. — Reuters/File

The Australian weather bureau has announced that a spring heat wave affecting extensive areas of the southeastern region, including Sydney, is set to intensify on Monday. 

Temperatures are projected to reach as much as 16 degrees Celsius (60 Fahrenheit) higher than the average for September.

Australia is currently experiencing an escalating heat wave that originated in the country's outback interior over the weekend. 

This heat wave is anticipated to persist until Wednesday and will impact the states of South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales.

The Bureau of Meteorology has indicated that numerous early spring temperature records are likely to be shattered in the coming days, describing the heat as "extraordinarily unusual for the month of September."

"A reprieve from the heat is not expected until Wednesday onwards, as a stronger cold front crosses the southeastern states," the weather bureau said in a Facebook post on Sunday.

The heat took its toll on runners in the Sydney marathon on Sunday with 26 people taken to the hospital and about 40 treated for heat exhaustion by emergency services.

Heat haze can be seen in a paddock on May McKeowns 6000 acre (2400 hectare) property of Long View near the town of Come-by-Chance, located over 700 km north-west of Sydney in Australia. — Reuters/File
Heat haze can be seen in a paddock on May McKeown's 6000 acre (2400 hectare) property of 'Long View' near the town of Come-by-Chance, located over 700 km north-west of Sydney in Australia. — Reuters/File

Temperatures in Sydney's west are expected to hit 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 F) on Monday before dropping to about 22 degrees Celsius (71 F) on Thursday, the weather bureau forecasts showed.

The heat wave has also elevated the risks of fires with several regions given 'high' fire danger ratings, and authorities urging residents to prepare for bushfires. 

About 50 grass or bushfires are burning across New South Wales but all have been brought under control.

Earlier Reuters reported that the heat burst came after the forecaster said last week that indicators of an El Nino weather event had strengthened and it would likely develop between September and November, bringing hotter, drier conditions to Australia.

The weather bureau said the "early period of heat" in many parts of the country was "very uncommon during September".

"These temperatures will intensify from Sunday through Tuesday," it said on Facebook, with temperatures 8 to 16 C (46.4 to 60.8 F) above average.

"Record September daytime and nighttime temperatures are expected from Sunday through Thursday across inland areas of South Australia, New South Wales and northeast Victoria."

Boats head into shore as storm clouds move along the coast towards the city of Sydney, Australia, November 6, 2015.—Reuters/File
 Boats head into shore as storm clouds move along the coast towards the city of Sydney, Australia, November 6, 2015.—Reuters/File

El Nino can prompt extreme weather events from wildfires to cyclones and prolonged drought, with Australian authorities already warning of heightened bushfire risks this summer.

A thick smoke haze blanketed Sydney for several days this week as firefighters carried out hazard-reduction burns to prepare for the looming bushfire season.

At Bondi beach, Sydney resident Bella Callaghan was concerned about how hot it could get in the coming months.

"We need extra strong sunscreen," she said.

Another local, Danielle Vangou, was worried about runners in the Sydney marathon, set to take place on Sunday.

"I'll be thinking about them tomorrow while I'll probably be here swimming, but it's gonna be tough for sure for them, so hopefully they have a bit of reprieve."