Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Jordyn Beazley

Late summer heat for New South Wales with parts of Sydney on track for 40C

View of Sydney CBD skyline
The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast temperatures of up to 40C for parts of Sydney as a heatwave passes across New South Wales. Photograph: Andrew Merry/Getty Images

New South Wales will swelter through an unusual burst of summer weather in March, with a heatwave expected to grip the state this week as temperatures in parts of Sydney reach close to 40C.

From Wednesday parts of NSW will experience multiple days in the low to mid 30s while other areas will reach the high 30s.

“[Sydney] could see a pretty hot one on Thursday, we’ll see 35C in the city and almost near 40C out in the western suburbs,” said Dean Narramore, a senior meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology.

Narramore said the heat was being dragged across the state from central Australia and would linger across much of NSW until next week. It would probably break along the coast early next week and in inland areas in the middle of next week.

Map of Australia with areas
A heatwave is forecast for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Illustration: BoM

While it is normal to get bursts of heat during March, Narramore said it is unusual for the heat to last long.

“Many locations just away from the coast and even the western suburbs of Sydney will see anywhere from four to six days … with temperatures anywhere from five to 12 degrees above average,” he said.

“It’s not record-breaking by any means, but it’s definitely on the unusual side.”

The heat comes just over a week after NSW saw a record-breaking demand for electricity in March at 13,136MW, as Sydney recorded its third-hottest day on record for the month.

The Australian Energy Market Operator expected electricity consumption to peak at 11,700MW at 6pm on Thursday and said there was enough supply to meet demand.

The wind was likely to pick up across the state alongside the heat, Narramore said, and cautioned people to be mindful of the increased bushfire risk.

The bureau also confirmed that the La Niña that has brought much of the rain to the east coast is over.

In a statement, the bureau said oceanic and atmospheric indicators have returned to neutral levels and are likely to remain until autumn.

But they have also switched to an El Niño watch, saying that there are some signs the weather event could form this year.

The bureau’s expert on long-range forecasts, Dr Andrew Watkins, said “drier-than-average conditions” were forecast for the coming months.

“Long-range forecasts show there’s an increased chance of below average rainfall for most of Australia during autumn 2023,” he said.

“Even if El Niño impacts Australia, this does not necessarily lead to drought. There have been 27 El Niño years since 1900, and about 18 of those years were affected by widespread winter-spring drought.”

The bureau emphasised that an El Niño watch was not a “guarantee” that the weather event will occur, but rather an indication that some of the precursors have been observed.

The drier-than-usual conditions could be detrimental to the coming bushfire season, with firefighters already battling blazes in NSW.

Since last Monday firefighters have responded to more than 290 bush and grassfires in NSW, according to the Rural Fire Service. This included an out-of-control bushfire north of Hill End in the state’s central west which destroyed six homes and tore through 18,000 hectares.

A spokesperson for the RFS said grassfires could start easily and spread rapidly under the forecasted dry and windy conditions.

“Everyone needs to ensure they have an up-to-date bushfire survival plan and know what they and their family will do if a fire threatens their property,” the spokesperson said.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.