Friday, February 05, 2016

Record 5-day heatwave tipped for Australia's west, sparking bushfire fears

Australia's west is set to swelter through a record-breaking heatwave over the next five days as temperatures are not expected to fall below 39 degrees Celsius, sparking fears of more destructive bushfires.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology's (BoM) week-long forecast for the Western Australian (WA) city of Perth shows the heatwave, defined as three consecutive days with maximum temperatures in excess of 32 degrees, will run from Sunday to at least Thursday next week.

However, according to the BoM, the whole state will be impacted by the stifling and "severe" heat, with temperatures in some WA areas peaking at almost 45 degrees Celsius during the stretch.

BoM senior forecaster Neil Bennett said on Friday that if the forecast was accurate, it could be the hottest period the state has endured on record.

"Temperatures in Perth are expected to exceed 39 (degrees Celsius) for four consecutive days," Bennett said in a statement.

"This has not happened before at the Mt Lawley observing site since records commenced there in 1993.

"The longest run of consecutive days above 39 (degrees Celsius) at the old observing site is five, from February 6-10, 1933."

The news has prompted warnings from WA fire authorities, with a "watch and act" alert in place for a bushfire which burning 200 km north of Perth.

Australia, in particularly WA, has had a horror 2015-2016 bushfire season thus far.

In November last year, three young European backpackers along with a local farmer were killed when a bushfire tore through multiple community towns outside of the rural WA city of Esperance.

Two months later, WA's south and west was ravaged by an out-of-control bushfire that claimed the lives of two elderly men from Yarloop.

WA Health authorities have also advised residents to seek shelter and stay hydrated over the five-day period, with hospitals bracing for hundreds of heat-related cases.

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