Sydney sizzles as spring heatwave grips Southeastern Australia

Monday, September 18, 2023


Australia is currently grappling with an unseasonable spring heatwave that is affecting large parts of the southeast, including Sydney. The heatwave, which originated in the country’s outback interior, is expected to persist until Wednesday, impacting the states of South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, temperatures in the affected regions could soar up to 16 degrees Celsius (60 Fahrenheit) above the September average, shattering early spring records. The bureau described this heatwave as “very uncommon for September.” Relief from the scorching heat is not expected until a cold front sweeps across the southeastern states on Wednesday.

In Sydney, where the heatwave has been particularly intense, temperatures in the western parts are predicted to reach a sweltering 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 F) on Monday before gradually cooling to around 22 degrees Celsius (71 F) by Thursday.

The extreme heat has had tangible health impacts, with 26 people hospitalized and approximately 40 treated for heat exhaustion during the Sydney marathon on Sunday. Additionally, the elevated temperatures have heightened the risk of wildfires, prompting authorities to issue ‘high’ fire danger ratings in several regions and urging residents to prepare for potential bushfires. While around 50 grass or bushfires are currently burning across New South Wales, authorities have managed to bring them under control.

Australia is bracing itself for a hotter southern hemisphere spring and summer this year, with the possibility of an El Niño weather event developing between September and November. El Niño typically leads to extreme weather conditions in Australia, including wildfires, cyclones, and droughts. Authorities have already issued warnings of heightened bushfire risks for the upcoming summer season. To prepare for this, firefighters have conducted hazard reduction burns, leading to a thick smoke haze shrouding Sydney in recent days. The nation is on alert as it anticipates challenging weather conditions in the months ahead.

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