The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has issued a severe-to-extreme heatwave warning for central and southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, with temperatures forecast to pass 40 °C (104 °F) in some areas over the weekend.
Temperatures are forecast to peak in inland areas towards the end of the week with widespread temperatures in the low 40s, and gusty winds contributing to elevated fire danger across Queensland.
Severe to extreme conditions are forecast for much of southern and central Queensland from Thursday, and forecast to continue into early next week with temperatures up to 10 °C (18 °F) above the December average.
Hot conditions will combine with gusty winds, driving high fire dangers, particularly in inland areas.
Storms are also forecast to affect much of the state, particularly in the northern and eastern districts, and some of these storms may be severe.
"We are looking at a possible heatwave with temperatures especially in western Brisbane suburbs remaining in the high 30s possibly getting to 40-41 for an extended period of time for five or six days," BOM's senior forecaster. Michael Knepp, said.
Many towns south of the Queensland border and west of the Great Dividing Range will endure several days of temperatures above 40.
The BOM predicts a top temperature of 44 °C (111.2 °F) in Moree, Walgett, Brewarrina and Bourke on Saturday. Those towns are set to remain in the low 40s on Sunday and Monday.
The agency is urging the public to follow the latest forecasts and warnings.
When temperatures are unusually hot over a period of time, with continuously high night-time and day-time temperatures, heat stress becomes a critical factor in human survival and infrastructure resilience.
Hot weather can affect anybody, may make existing medical conditions worse and can cause heat-related illness. In some cases, heat effects may be fatal.
Heatwaves may also affect community infrastructure such as power supply and other support services.
Energex's Danny Donald said sufficient preparations have already been made to cope with the expected additional load to be brought on by the heatwave.
"There's no real surprises that we will get some sort of heatwave over the summer period, so we'll also spend about $300 million preparing the network for each summer heat slash storm season," he said.
Featured image credit: BOM