Fire danger and health risks are accompanying a heatwave that is set to plough through the country this week, with temperatures in several states expected to reach 40-plus degrees.
The national forecaster says the three-day heatwave is the result of building heat in Western Australia.
As a trough sweeps through central WA, the heat will flow through to the south-eastern states from Wednesday.
Adelaide can expect a top of 37 degrees, and north east and north west South Australia will sweat through 44-degree days.
Sydney’s temperatures will hover in the mid-30s in the lead up to New Year’s Eve. However, western Sydney and inland parts of New South Wales can expect temperatures higher than 40 degrees.
Melbourne’s tops are expected to be in the 30s before temperatures drop to the low 20s for the final days of 2018.
Country Victoria is expected to break records, with the Mallee region preparing for consecutive days of 40-plus degrees.
It is still unknown just when the heatwave will die down, Bureau of Meteorology extreme weather meteorologist Sarah Fitton said.
“We are looking at a prolonged period of heat,” Ms Fitton told the ABC.
“As we head into New Year’s Day, we might see a slightly more significant change over southern states, but it really means that heat is still going to be sitting up through NSW and southern Queensland.
“It may not be enough to completely flush it away at this stage.”
The heatwave has prompted fire danger alerts for the affected states, and warnings from health departments.
“Extreme heat can affect anyone. Pregnant women, people with a pre-existing medical condition, people aged over 65 and children and babies are most at risk,” Victoria’s health department warned.
Organisations are urged to monitor conditions and respond accordingly with their heat plans, while individuals should also prepare for the heat.
In the capital cities, Melbourne is forecast to reach 36 degrees on Thursday and 34 on Friday.
Adelaide will swelter to a predicted 41 degrees on Thursday, 39 on Friday and 30 on Saturday.
Sydney is expected to reach 30 degrees on Thursday, 31 on Friday and 33 on Saturday.