Australia heatwave: All-time temperature record broken again

A STATE of emergency has been declared in New South Wales, Australia, amid fears a record-breaking heatwave will exacerbate the state’s bushfire crisis.
The nation endured its hottest-ever day on Tuesday, but that record was smashed again on Wednesday – which saw an average maximum of 41.9C.
Tuesday’s 40.9C had eclipsed the previous record of 40.3C, set in 2013.
Authorities in New South Wales (NSW) are currently fighting about 100 fires, in a crisis that has lasted months.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a seven-day state of emergency due to forecasts of worsening conditions.
A state of emergency gives fire authorities additional powers to cope with the crisis. It is the second such declaration in NSW since last month.
The Bureau of Meteorology (Bom) said individual December temperature records had been broken in a number of places – with temperatures in the southern city of Adelaide hitting 45.3C.
Bushfires have been raging in Australia for months, killing six people, destroying hundreds of homes and burning millions of hectares of land.
Australia heated up this week as a mass of hot air swept east across the continent.
The dominant climate driver behind the heat has been a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) – an event where sea surface temperatures are warmer in the western half of the ocean, cooler in the east.
The difference between the two temperatures is currently the strongest in 60 years..
Officials predict that 2019, on the temperatures recorded so far, will be among the four warmest years on record.
Temperatures are expected to exceed 45C in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
Heatwaves are Australia’s deadliest natural disaster and have killed thousands more people than bushfires or floods.
What is the heat doing to the fires?
Officials have warned that the combination of high temperatures and strong winds could heighten the crisis.
Two major fires are currently burning near the outskirts of Sydney, including a “mega blaze” which has burnt over 400,000 hectares.
On Thursday, three firefighters suffered serious burns after being “enveloped by fire” near the town of Bargo, officials said. They added it was too early to say how many houses had been razed.