Australia hits hottest day on record as deadly heat wave broils country

A deadly heat wave in Australia pushed temperatures to a new record high on Tuesday, as the scorching weather is forecast to bring even hotter air this week.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said the average temperature across the country reached 105 degrees Fahrenheit Tuesday, which beat the record of 104 Fahrenheit from Jan. 7, 2013.

“This hot air mass is so extensive, the preliminary figures show that yesterday [Tuesday] was the hottest day on record in Australia, beating out the previous record from 2013 and this heat will only intensify,” bureau meteorologist Diana Eadie said in a video statement on Wednesday.

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Forecasters said the new record may only last a day, as heat will only get worse.

On Wednesday, temperatures soared to 118 Fahrenheit in Birdsville, Queensland, 116 in Mandora, Western Australia and similar levels in southern and central Australia.

The highest temperature reliably recorded in any location in Australia was 123 Fahrenheit in January 1960, at Oodnadatta, a desert settlement in outback South Australia.

Meteorologist Dean Narramore said it was "incredible" that "huge areas of the country" were experiencing intense heat, according to Sky News.

High temperatures and strong winds have been fanning bushfires around Australia, including more than 100 in New South Wales state.

High temperatures and strong winds have been fanning bushfires around Australia, including more than 100 in New South Wales state. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

"So an incredible pool of hot air sitting right across the country at the moment," he said.

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The hot weather, which has come in the first part of Australia's summer, started early this year after an unusually dry and warm winter. High temperatures and strong winds have been fanning destructive bushfires around Australia.

Thick smoke from wildfires shrouds the Opera House in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019.

Thick smoke from wildfires shrouds the Opera House in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

The blazes have left at least six people dead, destroyed more than 680 homes and burned nearly 3 million acres. Cities such as Sydney have also been plunged in heavy smoke, leading to hazardous air quality.

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Cooler conditions are expected to finally arrive by Friday, but residents in some of the areas seeing the hottest temperatures this week say "you just live with it."

"February's normally the worst month for heat, so it's only the start for us," Oodnadatta resident Hayley Nunn told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.