Sydney weather: NSW swelters through heatwave28th November 2020
The temperature at Sydney’s Observatory Hill peaked at 40.8C just after 3pm, exceeding by four degrees the forecast of 36C for Saturday. In Penrith, it had climbed over 40 degrees by midday and peaked at 41.5. The hottest temperature recorded in the city was at the airport, where the mercury momentarily hit 43 just after 4pm – skirting close to the November record of 43.4C.
Elsewhere in the state, the temperature records did fall as the heat rose. Stations at Broken Hill airport, Albury airport, Griffith airport and Narrandera airport all broke their November records with temperatures well over 40.
With the sweltering temperatures only forecast to drop to the mid-20s overnight on Saturday, records could also be broken for the highest minimum November temperatures. The highest minimum temperature for Sydney sits at 24.8C, which was recorded in 1905.
A strong southerly change is set to eventually provide a reprieve from the heat as it pushes through Sydney between 3pm and 5pm on Sunday afternoon.
A spokesman for Surf Life Saving NSW said patrols are “on high alert” as crowds flock to the beaches for the first heatwave weekend of the season. While it’s tempting during a heatwave to take to the waves in the early morning and evening, he urged beachgoers to stick to patrolled beaches, at patrolled times, and check the Beach Safe app before leaving home to check which are open.
The heatwave is also causing concern for firefighters as strong winds and searing temperatures cause very high to severe fire danger in much of NSW. A total fire ban was in place for the Lower Central West Plains, Eastern Riverina, Southern Riverina and Northern Riverina on Saturday.
On Sunday, the fire bans will shift east and north as very high to severe fire danger conditions reach the Far North Coast, North Coast, Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney, North Western, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, Central Ranges, New England and Northern Slopes.
Farmers harvesting grain across the state have been warned to monitor conditions as they harvest due to concerns of grass fires, which could spread rapidly under strong winds and dry conditions.
“If something sparks it could take off,” Ms Kirkup said.
The NSW Riverina and Lower Western Plains reached sweltering temperatures by mid-morning, with Hay Airport hitting 40C after 10am, while Deniliquin also pushed past 40C.
Several grass fires have been burning in the state’s south, including one that threatened homes in Griffith that police allege was deliberately lit.
In a statement, NSW Police said Fire and Rescue NSW and Rural Fire Service officers evacuated a number of residents as a precaution as the fire was spreading.
A 38-year-old man will face court in Wagga Wagga tomorrow charged with deliberately lighting the blaze, which police said came within 10 metres of homes before being extinguished.
Beach ambassadors have been tasked with monitoring social distancing across Waverly Councils beaches, with people told to stay 1.5 metres, or a towel-length apart unless they are from the same household.
“This is going to be an especially challenging summer,” Waverley lifeguard services manager Matt du Plessis said.
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Tom Rabe is Transport Reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.
Jenny Noyes is a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald.