Scorching temperatures and an extreme bushfire risk are in store for Adelaide and much of South Australia as the United Nations global forecast predicts it will be the hottest city on earth.
The UN’s World Meteorological Organisation expects, if reached, Adelaide’s 46 degrees would be the world’s highest maximum temperature in a major population centre today.
The city could post a temperature record, with the peak forecast, close to the 46.1 degrees reached in 1939. Other capital cities are also predicted to reach close to Adelaide, with Melbourne at 44 and Canberra 40.
At 9am AEDT Adelaide had already hit 35, Melbourne 31 and Canberra 26.5.
Adelaide is expected to have a top of 40 on Friday, before a cool change sweeps across south-east Australia, ending a five-day heatwave, the third worst in the state’s history.
The number of people being treated for heat stress has steadily increased during the week with more than 70 people hospitalised over the past few days with heat-related conditions.
Based on records stretching back more than 100 years, Melbourne is facing its longest run of 40 degree days since 1908 and is predicted to reach 42 before the cool change hits on Friday.
More heatwaves to come
The predictions come as the Climate Council warns the current weather is a sign of things to come.
On the back of the extreme conditions, the recently formed Climate Council has released interim findings from its new heatwave report.
The report found the likelihood of heatwaves lingering for longer and becoming more intense was increasing as greenhouse gases continued to accumulate in the atmosphere.
The Australian Heatwaves: Hotter, Longer, Earlier and More Often report found the number of hot days across Australia had more than doubled.
Betwen 1971-2008, the duration and frequency of heatwaves has also increased, the interim findings state.
The climate council has projected the number of heatwaves to increase significantly in Australia.
“It is clear that climate change is making heatwaves more frequent and severe,” report author Professor Will Steffen said in a statement.
“Heatwaves have become hotter and longer, and they are starting earlier in the season.”
SA fire danger
The hot weather and increasing winds are causing concern for the Country Fire Service (CFS), with fears that conditions could spark major incidents.
CFS crews are being pushed to the has been fighting 15 fires in the Adelaide Hills, the mid-north, the southeast and across Eyre Peninsula with water bombers called in from Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
State coordinator Leigh Miller says the fire causing most concern at the moment is burning out-of-control about 30 kilometres north of Ceduna.
He says the Ceduna fire is not currently threatening the town, but northerly winds forecast for today could push it in that direction.
“Our crews on the ground are really stretched, we’re starting to see a few people have heat exhaustion type issues,” he said.
“Fighting fires in 40 odd degrees weather with little sleep is a real problem for us.
The SES said people should “look after each other, look after the community and survive until we see some reprieve”.
Rolling blackouts could also be on the cards in an attempt to reduce the pressure on the electricity grid, with power switched off to some suburbs to prevent a system meltdown.
Government energy spokesman Vince Duffy said it may not happen, but people should be prepared.
“The general load-shedding is unlikely but it’s still a possibility if there was further technical faults,” he said.