SYDNEY • While the eastern United States remained locked in a record deep freeze, South-East Australia wilted under scorching heat, with temperatures across Sydney hitting in excess of 40 deg C yesterday.
Penrith in western Sydney hit 47.3 deg C, the highest temperature there since 1939 and just shy of the all-time record for Penrith of 47.8 deg C. Sydney's central business district reached 43.4 deg C, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Parts of Sydney are forecast to reach 40 deg C today, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
Sydneysiders headed for the beach, lakes and rivers to beat heat yesterday, while matches at an international tennis tournament in the city were cancelled because of the extreme temperatures.
The heatwave affected much of south-east Australia over the weekend with some inland areas hitting 45 deg C.
Extreme heat and fire risk warnings were issued for Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania, though temperatures eased yesterday afternoon after a cool change swept through.
On Saturday, bush fires broke out in Victoria and South Australia, including a fire that burned several structures on the outskirts of Melbourne.
About 400 homes lost power and 50 fires were reported across Victoria on Saturday, although many were small and were extinguished, Reuters reported.
47.3 deg C Maximum temperature in Penrith, western Sydney, yesterday.
The heat was strong enough to melt the bitumen on a 10km stretch of freeway in Victoria, national broadcaster ABC News reported on Saturday.
Australia is prone to deadly blazes. In 2009, the worst bush fires on record destroyed thousands of homes in Victoria, killing 173 people and injuring 414 on a day the media dubbed "Black Saturday".