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The humidity is set to make those temperatures feel even higher, as the mercury climbs 15 degrees above the December average and delivers the hottest day in almost four years.
Penrith last reached 44 degrees in February 2020 and Sydney’s last hottest day was in November 2020, when the mercury reached 39 degrees.
In other parts of NSW, temperatures last reached the mid-40s in December 2020 in Tamworth and Dubbo, while November 2020 saw Wollongong and Gosford record top temperatures of 39 degrees and 41 degrees, respectively.
To combat today’s temperatures, Lord Mayor Clover Moore announced that all six of the City of Sydney’s public pools will be free to visit.
The ACT is forecast to reach 37 degrees today.
There is a total fire ban across Greater Sydney, Lower Central West Plains, Southern Slopes, Northern Riverina and Central Ranges areas.
The NSW Rural Fire Service is warning of “very hot, dry and windy conditions”.
“We’re going to see 30-40km/h winds most likely and that’s gonna make it a really challenging day should fire start,” Deputy Commissioner Peter McKechnie said.
A severe heatwave warning is also in place for parts of Queensland, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting “maximum temperatures in the mid to high 30s, increasing to the low to mid 40s over inland Queensland”.
“Overnight minimum temperatures in the mid to high 20s,” the bureau said.
The weather warning extends until Monday and covers the Peninsula, Gulf Country, North Tropical Coast and Tablelands, Channel Country, Maranoa and Warrego and Darling Downs and Granite Belt regions.
Brisbane is set to be a little cooler, with highs of 30 degrees forecast.
However the entire country will not be experiencing a heatwave, with a strong cold front pushing across south-eastern Australia.
According to Weatherzone, the weather system will bring a stark contrast in temperatures, with Melbourne to be about 25 degrees cooler than Sydney, with highs of 19 degrees.
Adelaide is forecast to reach only 17 degrees, while Hobart will see top of 18 degrees.
A windy day in southern Western Australia is set to keep temperatures about 26 degrees for Perth.
The interaction of the cool airmass with the hot air will likely cause thunderstorms across parts of NSW and the ACT but the cool change late in the day is forecast to bring those temperatures down for the remainder of the weekend.
The relief is forecast to be short lived though, with temperatures due to increase again towards the end of next week.
Extra pressure on NSW services
Olympic Park will be a hotspot in more ways than one, with 100,000 people expected to converge on the Homebush precinct for concerts by the Foo Fighters and 50 Cent tonight.
The conditions are set to put additional pressures on the transport system but Sydney Trains is promising extra services and staff on hand to give out free bottles of water at key stations.
There will also be be extra technical staff on standby should there be any heat-related emergencies and fire trucks on alert for any grass fires on the network.
At Bondi, lifeguards are expecting about 30,000 people to hit the beach in the heat.
“We have extra lifeguards on, we’re at full capacity with our staffing and resources,” lifeguard Daniel McLaughlin said.
“We’re going to see a lot of people with effects to the heat.”
NSW Ambulance senior assistant commissioner Clare Beech advises vulnerable people stay indoors.
“Stay indoors if you can during extreme heat, stay hydrated and look after those who are at extreme risk, the very young and the very old,” Beech said.