Australia could be sweating through its hottest month ever, after a gruelling heatwave smashed weather records across the country.
The latest weather predictions show the high temperatures are far from over, with the week ahead set to be another scorcher.
The warmest night ever recorded was in Noona on Thursday night, when the north-western New South Wales town only dropped to 35.9 degrees.
Tarcoola in northern South Australia experienced the worst of the heatwave with a top of 49 degrees on Tuesday – the hottest temperature ever recorded in Australia was 50.7 degrees in Oodnadatta, South Australia, in 1960.
Forecasters say the cool change of the weekend won’t stick around for the working week.
“We’ve seen the extreme heatwave conditions that were persisting for quite a while last week have dissipated,” Weatherzone meteorologist Joel Pippard told The New Daily.
The heatwave this week will be low intensity and severe in parts, with no extreme conditions expected.
The heat has been sitting over Western Australia and is spreading across the southern states.
Mr Pippard said that would bring some intense weather, but it’s forecast to be “generally a much quicker burst of heat” than last week.
Oodnadatta in SA is forecast to have seven days over 45 degrees, about seven degrees above the long-term maximum January average.
The meteorologist said January could be on track to be Australia’s hottest month ever, with many towns tracking five or 10 degrees above the long-term average.
“Quite a lot of places are like that,” Mr Pippard said.
“I would say there’s a very good chance it’ll be the hottest.”
The previous record was set in 2013, but “we’ve seen more broad heat this year and hotter temperatures as well than in 2013 so far”.
“Basically it’s been incredibly hot and we haven’t really seen, in records … this widespread heat in Australia until now.”
Four of Australia’s hottest 10 days on record were posted during last week’s heatwave.
Canberra surpassed 40 degrees for four days running – the first time that’s happened since records began 80 years ago.
White Cliffs in NSW was one of dozens of towns to experience its hottest day ever, topping 48.2 degrees on Wednesday.
Tamworth hasn’t had a maximum temperature below 35 degrees since Christmas Day, and had five straight days over 40 degrees to Sunday.
Penrith in Sydney’s west surpassed 42 degrees on Thursday and Friday. The intensity caused Sydney Trains to enforce a “WOLO” speed limit in the western suburbs, forcing trains to go 10km/h slower than normal.
Birdsville in Queensland had a record-breaking nine days in a row over 45 degrees. Camooweal and Cloncurry endured 36 consecutive days above 40 degrees.
Australia has also had a dry January so far, with the monsoon trough still not arriving in the northern Australian tropics.
February to April is expected to be warmer than normal for almost all of Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
The bureau released a special climate statement last week saying the heatwaves that begun in early December and continuing this month were unusual and extended.
Heatwaves are expected to get more severe with the effects of climate change.
The heat is expected to abruptly leave WA on Tuesday and Wednesday, taking Perth’s daytime temperatures from nine degrees above average over the weekend to eight degrees below average on Wednesday.
Melbourne is expected to be 27 degrees on Monday, and move into the 30s on Tuesday and Thursday. The city is tipped to reach 40 degrees on Friday.
Sydney is forecast to remain in the high-20s this week, hitting 31 degrees on Wednesday. Penrith is expected to hit 40 degrees on Saturday.
Canberra will be in the mid-30s for most of the week, with 39 degrees forecast for Saturday.
Adelaide is expected to stay in the high-30s this week, reaching a maximum of 42 degrees on Thursday.
Perth is forecast to be 32 on Monday before dropping into the 20s for the rest of the week.
Brisbane is expected to stay in the low to mid-30s, according to Weatherzone.
Hobart will be in the high-20s through the week, dropping to 19 degrees on Wednesday and reaching a high of 33 degrees on Friday.
Darwin is forecast to stay in the low 30s with possible thunderstorms.