Australia heatwave: Catastrophic wildfire danger declared as schools shut in record-breaking temperatures

‘We are in this run of very, very warm weather which hasn’t been seen in many, many years’

Stuti Mishra
Tuesday 19 September 2023 12:59 BST
<p>A thick blanket of smoke hangs over parts of the Sydney as wildfires burn </p>

A thick blanket of smoke hangs over parts of the Sydney as wildfires burn

A complete fire ban was imposed in Sydney for the first time in three years and schools were shut in parts of New South Wales amid an intense early spring heatwave.

Several records have been shattered as southwestern parts of Australia grapples with intense heat.

The fire ban was declared for the Greater Sydney area and coastal communities to the south as parts of the region suffered their highest September temperatures in decades on Monday. It is the first such declaration for Sydney since late November 2020.

The city matched its September maximum temperature record of 34.6C – more than 12C higher than the September average – on Tuesday.

It was also the fifth day of temperatures beyond above 30C for the first time in September – when the country’s spring season had just begun – in its recorded history.

Several cities in southern Australia, Victoria and New South Wales had temperatures climb to the mid to high 30s on Monday. Ceduna in South Australia recorded a temperature of 39.8C.

Authorities have forecast the most destructive wildfire season during the approaching Southern Hemisphere summer in Australia’s populous southeast since the catastrophic Black Summer fires of 2019-20 that killed 33 people, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and razed 19 million hectares (47 million acres) of forest area.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology described it as an unusually warm start to spring for much Australia’s southeast.

“We are in this run of very, very warm weather which hasn’t been seen in many, many years,” the bureau’s senior meteorologist Miriam Bradbury said.

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