South Australia under ‘catastrophic’ fire danger as extreme heat expected

South Australian residents have been warned to prepare as parts of the state are issued with catastrophic and extreme fire warnings.

Forecasted high temperatures up to the mid-40s and strong to gale-force winds up to 90km/h have created the perfect fuel for bushfires and grassfires across the state, with eight already burning.

The Eastern Eyre Peninsula, Flinders, Mid North, Yorke Peninsula and Riverland areas have been issued with catastrophic fire danger warnings by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).

The heatwave warnings across Australia for Friday, December 8, 2023. (Nine)

The North East Pastoral, West Coast, Mount Lofty Ranges, Murraylands and Upper South East areas have been hit with extreme fire danger warnings.

Widespread thunderstorms also raise concerns about lightning-sparked bushfires, the BoM said.

A grassfire in Wirraminna, off the Stuart Highway between Pimba and Glendambo, is burning at advice level.

Residents are not under threat by the fire but are urged to check the South Australian Country Fire Service for updated warnings.

The rest of Australia is sweltering through a heatwave today, as the mercury starts to climb before an expected peak on the weekend, with heat records set to be broken in some parts.

Residents in western Sydney can expect a top temperature of 38 degrees, before the mercury hits a scorching 42 degrees tomorrow, in what forecasters say will be the hottest in four years.

The last time western Sydney recorded temperatures of 42 degrees or higher was during the Black Summer of 2019-2020, according to Weatherzone.

Large parts of NSW are expected to reach more than 40 degrees on Saturday. (Weatherzone)

Other parts of New South Wales can expect temperatures of 40 degrees or more today.

Wilcannia in the state’s west should reach 46 degrees, Walgett on the Northern Slopes will have a top of 43 degrees and at Wellington in the Central Tablelands the mercury will peak at 40 degrees.

The state’s Rural Fire Service has issued a total fire ban today for the Lower Central West Plains, Southern Riverina, Northern Riverina and South Western areas.

Residents can expect some relief late tomorrow with the chance of thunderstorms.

Temperatures on Sunday are forecast to fall to the mid-twenties.

Millions of people are expected to seek relief from the heat by headng to the beach.. (Photo: Brook Mitchell) (Nine)

The Commonwealth has flown a large Boeing 737 airtanker into the state to provide the state’s firefighters which will bolster the state’s additional aircraft fleet.

In Victoria, the worst of the heat will be felt in the state’s north west.

Both Mildura and Swan Hill are heading for a top temperature of 45 degrees today before a south-westerly change brings relief later.

The BoM defines a heatwave as when both daytime and nighttime temperatures are unusually hot over a period of three days.

The BoM warned all those under the heatwave region should “take the necessary precautions they call stay hydrated, stay indoors”.

With NSW in the crosshairs, the state’s health authority has also issued a warning ahead of the heatwave.

NSW Health executive director of health protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty said “people should take extra care to prevent heat-related illness”.

He advised the public that to avoid dangerous effects of the heat, people should:

  • Avoid being outdoors in the hottest part of the day
  • Keep the home cooler by using air-conditioning or electric fans and closing doors, windows, blinds and curtains before it gets hot
  • Limit physical activity to early in the morning when it’s coolest
High pressure systems are swirling on the east and west coast of Australia, trapping heat inland. (BoM)

Sydney’s hottest suburbs during summer hot spells are usually low-lying suburbs, such as Penrith and Richmond on the Hawkesbury-Nepean floodplain at the foot of the Blue Mountains.

That will again be the case this Saturday, with both suburbs expected to reach 42 degrees.

The city and coastal areas of Sydney are tipped to be less stifling due to a cooling sea breeze but it is difficult to forecast when that will kick in.

Currently, the city is predicted to reach 38 degrees, but it could top 40 degrees depending how things develop.

Whatever happens temperature-wise, it is certain Sydney’s pools and beaches will be packed with residents seeking relief from the scorching conditions.

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Elsewhere in Australia, residents in every mainland state have been warned of heatwave conditions, with temperatures forecast to soar upwards of 40 degrees.

Twin high pressure systems off the east and west coast of Australia are circulating the heatwave and it could mean temperatures climbing well into the 40s across the nation in the coming days.

The BoM warned all those under the heatwave region should “take the necessary precautions they call stay hydrated, stay indoors”.

9News Sydney