Bureau of Meteorology expects more heatwaves over summer

Duncan Evans, Eli Green, Anthony Anderson and Jessica WangNCA NewsWire
NSW will struggle through a brutal heatwave across December 9-11. Weatherzone
Camera IconNSW will struggle through a brutal heatwave across December 9-11. Weatherzone Credit: News Corp Australia

Australia faces a brutal summer ahead, with more heatwaves that last longer than usual. Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Hugh McDowell told NCA NewsWire that Australians should begin preparing now for the extreme heat, with the bureau expecting a greater number of days that hit 40C or more.

“This summer, in particular, looks like it is going to see above-average max and minimum temperatures,” he said.

“Heatwaves are looking like they are going to be increasing in frequency and duration as well.

“There is a very high likelihood of exceeding the median maximum temperatures across pretty much all states.”

The average duration of a heatwave is about three days, Mr McDowell said, and Australians should expect heat events over the 2023-24 summer to stretch out longer than that.

Camera IconSydneysiders are expected to flock to the beach to escape the 40C heat forecast for western Sydney this weekend. NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper Credit: News Corp Australia

He said it was possible a heatwave could last as long as a week.

Extreme heat events can be fatal and Mr McDowell said Australians should begin preparing now for them.

“Extreme heat is Australia’s most deadly natural hazard, it kills more people than flooding and fire combined, so it’s good to have a plan in place,” he said.

“Generally, just trying to keep our houses cool by keeping the blinds drawn during the day, keeping things well ventilated.

“If you’ve airconditioning, use it, if you haven’t and it is very hot, it is good to get out of the heat and go to the local mall, anywhere that you can cool down.

“Check in on people who are vulnerable, like elderly neighbours or children.”

The warning comes as Australia’s east coast braces for wild weather, with North Queensland confronting a tropical cyclone and NSW residents facing a weekend of 40C heat.

Large swathes of NSW will struggle through a brutal heatwave over December 9-11. Weatherzone
Camera IconLarge swathes of NSW will struggle through a brutal heatwave over December 9-11. Weatherzone Credit: News Corp Australia

The mercury is expected to soar to a high of 42C on Saturday in parts of western Sydney.

Thousands are expected to brave the beating sun to catch a sweep of large-scale concerts, including The Foo Fighters and 50 Cent at Sydney Olympic Park, Dermont Kennedy at the Opera House and Alex G at the Metro Theatre in the CBD.

Festivalgoers planning on attending the Let the Good Times Roll festival on the Central Coast on Sunday have also been warned to be on the lookout for signs of heat stress.

Those who are over the age of 65, babies and young children, those with certain medical conditions, people who work outside, pregnant women and those who live alone are all at increased risk of suffering illness when the heatwave strikes, according to NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty.

“Hot weather puts a lot of strain on the body, including dehydration and can make underlying health conditions worse,” Dr McAnulty said.

He recommended people avoid spending time outdoors during the hottest time of the day, limit exercise to the morning and drink water regularly.

Cyclone Presser
Camera IconSenior meteorologist Laura Boekel explains how a tropical low in the Solomon Sea is expected to develop into a tropical cyclone. NCA NewsWire/Tertius Pickard Credit: News Corp Australia

Symptoms of heat-related illness can include dizziness, tiredness, thirst, fainting, cramps, heavy sweating, shallow breathing and vomiting.

Those who experience these symptoms need to move out of the sun and seek shade or airconditioning, drink water and even take a cool shower or bath.

The NSW towns of Armidale, Broken Hill, Bourke, Cobar, Dubbo, Goulburn, Moree, Orange, Tamworth and Yass are also expected to be impacted, with temperatures expected to reach the low to mid-40 and the mid-30s over higher terrain.

The Rural Fire Service is warning of a heightened fire danger during the heatwave weekend, urging those visiting bushfire-prone areas to know the day’s fire danger rating and to make a bushfire action plan.

Camera IconThe Bureau of Meteorology advises Australians to prepare for the extreme heat events expected to hit the country over the summer. NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper Credit: News Corp Australia

NSW Police are also urging people to take it easy on the roads, with many deciding to head to the beach, where parents have been asked to keep an eye on kids near the water.

Those closer to the coast will be a little more fortunate, with temperatures expected to peak at 35C on Saturday around the Sydney CBD.

From this weekend and into early next week, South Australia could also be hit with a raft of dangerous weather, including heavy rain, severe thunderstorms and damaging winds.

Originally published as Bureau of Meteorology expects more heatwaves over summer

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