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Extreme Heat, Fire Danger Threaten Melbourne, Australia

Extreme heat is wasting no time building across southeastern Australia for the start of 2015.

Temperatures will dramatically soar across Victoria, South Australia and neighboring areas on Friday as an area of high pressure off the coast pumps in hot air from the south.

The extreme heat will persist through Saturday as a cold front approaches and cools down the South Australia coastline.

The hottest days since last summer are in store for Melbourne with highs approaching, then reaching the 40-degree mark C (lower 100s F).

With a high around 24 C (mid-70s F) more common for early January, such heat is dangerous.

Residents are encouraged to keep cool by drinking plenty of water, wear light clothing and spending the days in a building with air conditioning or fans. Be sure to look in on the elderly, children and pets to make sure they are properly dealing with the heat.

Strenuous activity or labor should be avoided, especially during the midday and afternoon hours.

In addition to the heat, gusty winds will occasionally blow and significantly heighten the fire danger. Extreme care should be taken with campfires, sparks and cigarette butts.

First Tropical Cyclone of Season to Form Near Australia

The cooldown set to grace the South Australia coast on Saturday will spread to the rest of the state and Victoria to end the weekend, but the heat will not depart on a quiet note.

As the cold front swings through, AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Adam Douty is concerned for locally gusty thunderstorms to erupt. Such thunderstorms will target Melbourne late Saturday.

In the front's wake, temperatures in Melbourne will plunge down to 15 C (60 F) Saturday night and only recover to the lower 20s C (lower 70s F) on Sunday.

The return to more seasonable temperatures will not last long as warmer air quickly returns early next week. At the same time, a tropical threat will be brewing off the northern coast of Western Australia.