‘Worst fire danger since January’
Bushfires are so January 2020, right? Wrong. Heavy rain may have snuffed out the last of the flames weeks ago but the next few days could bring the "most widespread fire dangers since last January" forecasters have warned.
Temperatures could soar, particularly in inland areas of the east and along the New South Wales coast, with Sydney and Newcastle exceeding the mid-thirties tomorrow. The cities could break a March temperature record set 55 years ago.
But the mercury will then drop rapidly as we head into the weekend.
That heat spike is being caused by a cold front heading in from the west, said Sky News Weather meteorologist Alison Osborne today.
"The cold front is making its way through the Great Australian Bight keeping rain well away from the mainland today."
However, the heat and the wind will make landfall.
The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a fire danger warning for much of South Australia and an extreme fire danger warning for the Mt Lofty Ranges that overlook Adelaide.
The particularly dangerous time will be this afternoon when fresh and gusty winds of potentially around 60 km/h hit the area. Fires could be uncontrollable with the risk of ember attack.
Temperatures in Adelaide topped out at 26.8C, the warmest March night since 1940. The mercury could reach 32C today dropping into the low twenties tomorrow as the cold front passes through.
If you thought last night was unseasonably warm, you're not wrong! Adelaide West Terrace had an overnight low of 26.8°C at 03:57 am, the warmest this late in March for this site since 27.6°C on 13th Mar 1940. However our official min T was 25.6°C which occurred at 9 am yesterday. pic.twitter.com/H7LRbjs5SJ— Bureau of Meteorology, South Australia (@BOM_SA) March 18, 2020
While we’re very focused on COVID-19, our fire agencies are also ready to respond to today’s fire danger. The risk today is fast moving grass fires in the north and west of our state. Stay connected to emergency information and warnings and take care pic.twitter.com/5py5qC9cae— Andrew Crisp APM (@CommissionerEMV) March 18, 2020
VICTORIA AND TASMANIA
That front will reach the Victorian border later today with winds of up to 50 km/h, fiercer on higher ground.
"That's more than enough for dust storms and warrants the most widespread fire dangers since late January from the Eyre Peninsula all the way to central districts of Victoria," said Ms Osborne.
The mercury will reach the mid-thirties across inland Victoria but will peak at around 30C in Melbourne today. The city could see a storm in the evening as the cold front makes its presence felt.
Then, like South Australia, the temperatures across the state will drop right down into the twenties and even into the high teens as we head into a cold Melbourne weekend. Overnight lows on Saturday and Sunday could be down to just 11C.
Wet in Hobart with as much as 10m falling later today and showers for the next few days. Temperatures of 20C on Thursday and then into the mid-teens with overnight lows in the single digits.
A severe weather warning is in place for Thursday night and Friday morning for parts of southern NSW and the ACT as winds ahead of the front whip up to potentially 110 km/h.
NEW SOUTH WALES
On Friday morning, temperatures will rise across NSW and the ACT with high fire dangers from the Victorian border to the central ranges.
A warm 29C in Canberra for the next couple of days then falling to 25C or lower with chilly nights.
It's the east coast that could be really warm though. A pleasant high of 29C today in Sydney will jump to 35C tomorrow and toastier in the city's western suburbs.
This would be the second day this month with Sydney exceeding 35C. The last time the city had two 35C plus days was back in 1965.
It's certainly the worst fire weather since December and January. However, the rain over the last few montsh and the fact there are currently no fires bodes well that the danger will pass.
Much of NSW will see maximums exceeding 30C tomorrow as well. However, that cold dip isn't far behind with Sydney reaching only 24C on Saturday - although Sunday will be a touch warmer.
Settled conditions in Brisbane with 29C today lifting to 30C tomorrow and 32C on the weekend.
Further north in Queensland, off shore winds will blow moisture onto the state's north bringing heavy rain in a line from Townsville to Cooktown. North of Cairns, 150mm could come down over the weekend and the few days either side. Maximums of around 30C.
In Darwin, 35C and stormy on Friday and Saturday with lows of 25C. Perth will see a high of 25C today and 30C tomorrow with possible storms on the weekend.
Originally published as 'Worst fire danger since January'