Australia has recorded its hottest average temperature across the whole country on Tuesday, December 17, 2019, at 40.9 °C (105 °F), beating the previous record of 40.3 °C (104 °F) set on January 7, 2013. Meteorologists are attributing a very strong positive Indian Ocean Dipole as the source of the heat.
"This hot air mass is so extensive, the preliminary figures show that yesterday was the hottest day on record in Australia, beating out the previous record from 2013 and this heat will only intensify," said meteorologist Diana Eadie in a video statement on Wednesday, December 18.
Preliminary results suggest that the 17th December was Australia's hottest day on record at 40.9 ºC, with the average maximum across the country as a whole, exceeding the previous record of 40.3 ºC on the 7th January 2013. https://t.co/TKwWBuFPgJ pic.twitter.com/xOFpokoXos— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) December 18, 2019
News that Australia has, again, had its hottest day on record may seem somewhat repetitive by the weekend. pic.twitter.com/JQVziIdELc— Andrew Miskelly (@andrewmiskelly) December 18, 2019
Temperatures soared to 47.7 °C (118 °F) in Birdsville, Queensland. In Mandora, Western Australia and in southern and central Australia, temperatures reached 46.9 °F (116 °F).
The hottest temperature recorded in Australia was 50.7 °C (123 °F) in January 1960 at Oodnadatta, a desert settlement in the outback, South Australia.
Sizzling temperatures and strong winds are also fanning bushfires around the country, including over 100 blazes in New South Wales where heat and haze have caused an increase in hospital admissions.
Meteorologists are expecting December heat records to be broken, putting emergency crews on alert including firefighters, ambulance, and paramedics. Total fire bans were issued for NSW and South Australia.
In South Australia, a fire ban was issued for eight districts, as well as an extreme fire danger warning for three districts including the Yorke Peninsula, Mount Lofty Ranges, and the Lower South East.
As another day of scorching temperatures bakes SA an extreme heatwave is taking hold and records are likely to tumble. Relief will come to many areas on Friday as a cool change sweeps across the west and south.— Bureau of Meteorology, South Australia (@BOM_SA) December 17, 2019
See the latest heatwave forecast at: https://t.co/vxCzv4flUR pic.twitter.com/g5Cp0WrXFQ
In Victoria, residents braced for scorching temperature as it is forecast to reach 40 °C (104 °F) or hotter on Wednesday. The state may see its hottest December day on Friday if centers in the northwest reach a forecast of 47 °C (116.6 °F).
Severe heatwave conditions are likely for much of #Victoria from today until at least Friday, with extreme heatwave conditions for the far Northwest and parts of the Northeast https://t.co/8Wx6xfXeI7 pic.twitter.com/RIZcmUiVI7— Bureau of Meteorology, Victoria (@BOM_Vic) December 17, 2019
"We're expecting a lot of December records to be challenged, particularly in the northwest, north-central Victoria some parts of northwest Victoria may get very close to records for any time of the year," said Climatologist Dr. Blair Trewin.
"That's only happened once before in 1939 so it is certainly a very significant heatwave, particularly for December."
In New South Wales, the temperature will reach around 36 °C (96.8 °F) in portions of Sydney, and hit 44 °C (111.2 °F) on Thursday, December 19.
Are you ready for the heat in NSW? The next three days will see very hot temps in most of the state. Have a plan to Beat the Heat: https://t.co/31ru1HbHkc Smoke will combine with the heat in some areas, so know how to also cope with the smoke: https://t.co/ePp7mfInzT pic.twitter.com/QeARU443Fr— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) December 18, 2019
Cooler weather will be felt on Friday, December 20, but Saturday, December 21, will see hotter conditions again with swaths of the state including Sydney's suburbs to experience 45 °C (113 °F) or hotter.
Canberra will also face major heatwave and high fire dangers as 42 °C (107.6 °F) is expected to hit on Saturday.
In Queensland, heat is forecast to build over the course of the week, although inland areas are likely to experience temperatures over 40 °C (104 °F).
Going, going, gone? It looks like the Australian record for the warmest December day, 49.5°C at Birdsville on 24 Dec 1972, may not last the week with #Queensland likely to pass the baton to a southern state. Keep up to date w/ forecasts, obs & warnings …. https://t.co/DyN9akvf4A pic.twitter.com/J5AVEKpQKl— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) December 18, 2019
Perth will remain cool with a top of 34 °C (93.2 °F), although long-range forecast predicts a temperature of 40 °C (104 °F) on December 25.
The Northern Territory, on the other hand, may experience possible thunderstorms for the rest of the week. Although the storm has changed direction as of Wednesday, the Bureau of meteorology urged people to "keep an eye on the warnings as the situation evolves during the remainder of the evening."
And just like that the Severe #Thunderstorm has changed direction meaning #Darwin is no longer under direct threat. Keep an eye on the warnings as the situation evolves during the remainder of the evening https://t.co/qONNZ7lbSe pic.twitter.com/sLgyg8fyjP— Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory (@BOM_NT) December 18, 2019
Featured image credit: Earth.Nullschool.Net Acquired December 17, 2019.