Extreme weather has followed Australia from 2018 into 2019, with Queensland threatened by another tropical cyclone, while temperatures into the 40s are predicted for parts of the country later this week.
In Tasmania, fire-fighters are bracing for a 39 degree day on Friday with a blaze in the south-west wilderness causing concern having already burnt 2000 hectares and forced the evacuation of bushwalkers.
The bushfire, which is burning at Gell River, approximately six kilometres north-west of Lake Rhona, began early Friday afternoon and authorities are working around the clock to try and control it ahead of the extreme conditions.
In far north Queensland, Tropical Cyclone Penny made landfall between Weipa and Thud Point about 4pm on New Year’s Day. It touched down as a category one storm, and brought heavy rain and wind gusts of up to 100kmh.
Forecasters have predicted it will weaken into a tropical low into Wednesday morning as it moves across Cape York Peninsula, before moving eastwards and into the Coral Sea.
Bureau of Meteorology weather services manager Richard Wardle said while Cyclone Penny will be short lived, there is the chance it could redevelop into a category one or two system later in the week.
“It’s too early to determine the cyclone’s possible movement beyond this point, but some models indicate it could curve back towards the Queensland coast as a low,” Dr Wardle said.
Extreme end to the year
In Sydney the ghost of the New Year’s Eve’s thunderstorm has lingered.
The city’s train infrastructure was dealt a severe blow on Monday evening, with cancellations and delays hitting the thousands of revellers who trekked into the city.
Significant delays continued into Tuesday, with Transport for NSW officials crossing their fingers all the affected lines would be running smoothly by Wednesday.
Weather hampered New Year’s Eve celebrations in Dubbo, too, as the city’s fireworks show was canned thanks to the arrival of an epic dust storm.
Drought-stricken, dry soil was whipped up by strong winds and turned into a wall of dust that descended on the inland NSW city in the early evening.
Newcastle and Maitland were also forced to cancel their fireworks because of thunderstorms.
Newcastle’s council has already rescheduled its display for late January, while the Dubbo council is scouting new dates.
Summer has really arrived
The heatwave of Christmas week is expected to re-emerge later this week, with temperatures expected to creep into the low 40s.
In Sydney, the mercury will peak at 35 degrees on Saturday, while centres like Penrith and Parramatta will swelter through 38-degree thunderstorms.
Melbourne is in for a scorcher on Friday, with a top of 42 degrees expected before a cool change sweeps through, bringing what is sure to be a welcome relief.
Towns along the Victoria-NSW border will have to struggle through top temperatures of 45 degrees on Friday.
The heat will hit Adelaide on Thursday, with a forecast temperature of 41 degrees.
Perth, Brisbane and Hobart escape the worst of the heat, with temperatures expected to fluctuate between 30 and 35 degrees across the weekend.