Australia’s heatwave has had an immediate impact on the Sydney Marathon with 26 people taken to hospital on Sunday and around 40 being treated by emergency services for heat exhaustion.
Large parts of south-east Australia, including Sydney, are experiencing a spring heatwave, the national weather service said, with temperatures on Monday expected to peak as much as 16C (60F) above the September average!
The growing heatwave developed inland over the weekend and is likely to last into Wednesday across the states of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.
The Met Office said several early spring records were expected to be broken in the coming days, calling the heat “very unusual for September”.
“Relief from the heat is not expected until Wednesday and beyond as a stronger cold front moves across the southeastern states,” the Bureau of Meteorology said in a Facebook post on Sunday.
Temperatures in Sydney’s west are expected to reach 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 Fahrenheit) on Monday, before falling to around 22 degrees Celsius (71 Fahrenheit) on Thursday, the weather service forecast.
The heat wave has also increased wildfire risks, with several areas receiving “high” fire danger ratings and authorities urging residents to prepare for wildfires. About 50 grass or bush fires are burning in New South Wales, but all have been brought under control.
Australia is bracing for a warmer spring and summer in the southern hemisphere this year after the possibility of an El Nino increased, and the forecaster said the weather phenomenon could likely develop between September and November.
El Nino can cause extreme weather from bushfires to cyclones and droughts in Australia, with authorities already warning of increased fire risks this summer.
A thick haze of smoke blanketed Sydney for several days last week as firefighters carried out hazard reduction burns in preparation for the upcoming bushfire season.
Australia’s warm spring follows a winter with well above average temperatures. Scientists warn that extreme weather events such as heat waves will become more frequent and more intense unless the world stops burning the fossil fuels that warm the planet.
Editor-translation: Spyros Ampelakis