South eastern and central Australia is set for its second heatwave of January, with temperatures in the 40s and catastrophic fire danger warnings for parts of south eastern Australia.
The Bureau of Meteorology predicted a heatwave from yesterday, with high temperatures across Victoria and South Australia, strengthening as the week goes on.
The second wave of hot weather could mean a record number of days over 40 in January for Victoria and South Australia.
Catastrophic warnings for South Australia
Temperatures are expected to reach 41 in Adelaide with north-northwesterly winds of 45km/hr before a cool change, with the Bureau of Meteorology issuing total fire bans across South Australia, as well as a catastrophic warning for the Lower South East.
The fire bands have forced 11 schools to be closed on the day most children are returning to school after the holidays.
Nine are in the state’s Lower South East region, which has a catastrophic fire danger rating for Tuesday, while the Napperby and Wirrabara primary schools will be closed due to an extreme risk.
The Country Fire Service (CFS) says the weather conditions could not be worse, as South Australia faces its second heatwave this month.
“We are facing a horror day when we already have existing fires burning in the state,” state coordinator Brenton Eden said.
Total fire ban in Victoria
Parts of Victoria will stay above 40C for six days, while Melbourne will be in the 30s for much of the week with a total fire ban day declared across the state by the CFA.
The heatwave comes as figures from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine show there were 139 more deaths than expected between January 13, when the last heatwave began, and January 23.
Victoria experienced its hottest four-day period for both maximum and average heat, with four days in a row of 40C temperatures felt in Melbourne.
Temperatures were on par with the week leading up to the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009.
In Mildura, there will be seven days in a row above 40C, meteorologist James Taylor said.
“The heat hangs right in there for Mildura with a forecast of seven days straight of above 40 degrees,” Mr Taylor said.
“It’s due to a pool of hot air over central Australia sweeping across the north of the state this week.”
Southern parts of Victoria will see a period of extended heat, but not as warm as the north, he said.
In Melbourne, the forecast on Tuesday is 39C, with Wednesday 24C, Thursday and Friday 33C and 38C on Saturday.
Attorney-General Robert Clark says everyone can do their bit to check on the elderly and vulnerable during periods of extreme heat.
“Heat is always a difficult challenge for people who are old and vulnerable,” Mr Clark said.
“If you’ve got an elderly or frail neighbour drop in and make sure they’re doing okay on a hot day.”
No fires can be lit in the open air in Victoria between midnight (AEDT) on Monday to midnight on Tuesday.
The CFA advises people living in areas at risk of fire to activate their bush fire plans.