New South Wales and Queensland sweltered through the first heatwave of the new year, and with more to come authorities are warning of the danger of heat-related illness.
Temperatures in northern NSW and southern Queensland soared on Wednesday, with the mercury rising beyond 40C in both states.
The NSW country town of Bourke topped the temperature readings with 46C, while Thargomindah in western Queensland’s Channel Country hit 43.9C – five degrees above the monthly average.
As the Bureau of Meteorology predicted that the full brunt of the extreme weather is still to come – with hot conditions expected to peak on Friday – it is warning the public to avoid physical activity in the sun.
“The best way to reduce the risk of heat-related illness is to drink plenty of water and keep your body as cool as possible, and avoid prolonged sun exposure by staying indoors in cool or air-conditioned facilities,” the BoM said in a statement.
NSW Health warned heatwaves can have serious impacts on people’s health, and asked residents to phone their elderly friends, neighbours and relatives at least once a day to check on their wellbeing, while eating smaller, cold meals such as salad and fruit.
Surf Life Saving NSW urged beachgoers to keep watch on themselves and loved ones for signs of heat stress, such as dizziness, fatigue and headaches.
It warned people to stay hydrated, as thousands of people are expected to flock to beaches over the coming days.
The RSPCA urged owners to take particular care with pets who faced “potentially lethal heat stress”, noting it could take just six minutes for an animal to die of heatstroke.
“Many people are not aware that if you leave your dog unattended in the car, even with windows down and in the shade, there’s still a high risk of heatstroke and potentially suffering a worse fate,” RSPCA NSW chief inspector David O’Shannessy said in a statement.
— Department of Health (@healthgovau) January 8, 2017
After a brief respite on Thursday, the heat is tipped to continue rising across NSW with the BoM predicting a much hotter day on Friday with mid-to-high 40-degree temperatures in the west of the state.
Bourke is expected to reach a blistering 47C.
Thargomindah, meanwhile, is forecast to reach 46C of Friday, but will not dip below 35C overnight — which is a big concern according to the BoM.
“The more interesting thing and the reason we are concerned … is the minimum temperatures are still remaining well above average, so there is no relief at night,” BoM Queensland forecaster Diana Eadie said. “That’s the most unusual phenomenon. That’s where the records will be broken.”
The hot weather also prompted the Rural Fire Service to impose a total fire ban on the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, Central Ranges, Southern Slopes and North Western districts in NSW.
Heatwave power outage, trains affected
Power was cut to almost 7000 homes across Sydney and 1600 on the NSW Central Coast during the heatwave.
“On a hot day, heat can be a factor, but we still need to investigate and test the faults to see if that’s the case,” Zoe Allebone from Ausgrid told ABC Radio Sydney.
— BOM Australia (@BOM_au) January 10, 2017
Ausgrid reported blackouts in Naremburn, Crows Nest, Bankstown, Punchbowl Pymble, Turramurra, Erina in the Sydney region, as well as Green Point on the Central Coast.
“Obviously on such a hot day we understand it’s very inconvenient for our customers to have the air-con go off, or the fan go off, and we do apologise for that inconvenience,” Ms Allebone said.
The hot conditions also forced Sydney trains to put speed restrictions in place for Sydney’s North, Central and South-West regions.
Speeds were reduced by 10 km per hour, restricting the speed on all lines to 90 kph.