National parks across Western Australia have been closed as extreme heat forecast for this weekend hits the state.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) says the temperature in Perth is expected to reach 44 degrees Celsius on Saturday and 41C on Sunday.
Twelve national parks in Perth and the state’s mid-west will be closed all weekend, WA’s Department of Parks and Wildlife says, while two in the South West will be closed on Sunday only.
Recreational areas at dams in the Perth Hills, including the Mundaring Weir, will also be closed.
The severe to extreme heatwave conditions in WA are forecast to spread to south-east Australia over the weekend, with possibly no relief for inland areas for well over a week.
Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and western Sydney will all feel the heat, with temperatures in the high 30s to low 40s for at least four to five days.
It has been a scorching start to 2014 for many parts of the continent.
A week ago, temperatures in parts of Central Australia, north-western New South Wales and Queensland approached 50C, setting new records.
The sweltering conditions came as a BoM report revealed that 2013 was the hottest year on record in Australia.
A new BoM heatwave forecast provides a national heatwave status up to four days ahead and includes three heatwave categories, providing an indication of how widespread the effects of the heat will be felt through the population affected.
This new product has resulted in a specific definition of heatwave conditions for Australia, which is now considered to be three days or more of high maximum and minimum temperatures that is unusual for that location.
The heatwave forecast incorporates this definition and a heatwave intensity using the maximum and minimum temperature over a three-day period, the local climate averages, and how the temperatures have changed over the past 30 days.
The conditions in the past 30 days gives an indication on how acclimatised a population faced with higher-than-normal temperatures will be when heatwave conditions develop.
Extreme conditions is considered the highest level, with an impact across multiple areas such as infrastructure, transport, energy, agriculture and both healthy and vulnerable people are at risk of injury.
Extreme levels of heat will also coincide with dangerous fire weather conditions across the southern states.