“This hot air mass is so extensive, the preliminary figures show that yesterday 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.
The weather bureau said temperatures in southern and central Australia on Thursday may reach between 8 and 16 degrees higher than normal. On Wednesday temperatures soared to 47.7 Celsius (118 Fahrenheit) in Birdsville, Queensland, 46.9 Celsius (116 Fahrenheit) in Mandora, Western Australia and similar levels in southern and central Australia.
The highest temperature reliably recorded in any location in Australia was 50.7 Celsius (123 Fahrenheit) in January 1960, at Oodnadatta, a desert settlement in outback South Australia . High temperatures and strong winds are also fanning bushfires around Australia, including more than 100 in New South Wales state where heat and smoke have caused an increase in hospital admissions.
Cooler conditions are forecast from Friday.