The NSW Rural Fire Service has issued a total fire ban across the Sydney region for the first time in three years.
The ban comes into effect on Tuesday, when temperatures in the city are expected to reach 33C. The last total fire ban covering Sydney was on November 29, 2020.
The service also declared a total fire ban on the state’s south coast, where the Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe heatwave warning, with temperatures not falling below 18C for three days and consecutive nights.
Extreme fire conditions are forecast for the south coast on Tuesday and in Sydney and the Hunter Valley on Wednesday.
Much of Australia entered its fourth straight day of well-above-average heat on Monday, bringing elevated fire risks and an early start to an unusually hot and dry season.
Northern Victoria, inland New South Wales and inland South Australia are all expected to record temperatures 10°C to 16°C above average on Monday. Port Augusta in South Africa was forecast to reach 39°C, Penrith in New South Wales was forecast to reach 37°C and Sydney was forecast to reach 31°C.
Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Dean Narramore said the prolonged period of high temperatures in many parts of Australia was “very unusual”, particularly for this time of year.
The deep heat band was caused by a large, slow-moving high pressure system pulling heat from central and northern Australia southeastward. September heat records were broken on Sunday in South Australia, where Ceduna reached 39.8°C.
With the heat moving east, temperatures are expected to rise further in New South Wales on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The heatwave is expected to break on Wednesday, when a cold front sweeps across the southeast, bringing strong winds, showers and even some snow to parts of the alpine regions of Victoria and Tasmania, Narramore said.
Sydney’s temperature is expected to drop from 34°C to 21°C when the temperature change arrives that evening, bringing gusty winds and a few showers.
“Temperatures will return to average, but after a hot week, it’s going to feel like a shock,” Narramore said.
On Monday morning, the NSW Rural Fire Service responded to grass fires at Riverwood, southwest of Sydney, and Kangy Angy, north of Gosford. A bushfire at Razorback, north of Picton, was also under control.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services issued evacuation orders for residents in the rural town of Emerald and Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday. On Monday, residents in affected areas were urged to stay informed and avoid smoking.
James Haig, executive director of bushfire mitigation at Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, has encouraged bushfire preparedness following an early start to the bushfire season.
“The recent fires in Queensland have shown that bushfire season is well and truly upon us, so make sure you have a bushfire survival plan,” he told ABC News.
“We want people to understand what they’re going to do and be able to implement a pre-established plan.”
The Australian Red Cross has echoed the call, with new data showing just 10% of the population is taking steps to actively prepare for emergencies, while 58% of Australians – more than double the figure ‘five years ago – are likely to be affected by heatwaves during the period. the next 12 months.
Penny Harrison of the Red Cross said concern about emergencies did not translate into active preparation.
“We know that the better prepared you are, the better your ability to respond and recover in an emergency. It’s not enough to think about it,” she said.
Sydneysiders have been urged to prepare for a high-risk bushfire season this summer, while prolific vegetation growth has added to fuel loads as the bushfire season approaches.
The BoM has not yet declared an El Niño event for the coming summer, but meteorologist Dylan Bird said last week that the agency was closely watching climate criteria and that the phenomenon, now 70 percent chances of appearing, was “very likely”.
After the warmest winter on record, the bureau forecasts a hotter and drier summer across much of Australia, due to the likely El Niño phenomenon and the development of the Indian Ocean Dipole.