Three European backpackers and a local farmer have been identified as the victims of massive bushfires that burned through bush and scrub around Esperance, in Western Australia’s southeast.
The backpackers were relatively young. Their identities have yet to be released. They are believed to have been a 19-year-old German man, a 31-year-old woman from Norway and a British man.
Meanwhile, a heatwave in New South Wales is expected to send temperatures in Sydney soaring to 41 C today. NSW has closed 30 national parks over its southern region because of the danger of sudden bushfire.
In western NSW, White Cliffs reported temperatures of 43C yesterday, with the same or hotter expected today. The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) says heatwave conditions are being caused by an approaching front and a slow-moving high pressure system over the Tasman Sea.
BoM severe weather manager Michael Logan told ABC News temperatures are forecast to reach the low 40s across inland NSW and some coastal areas, including Sydney, today.
“The forecast for Sydney has now been updated to 41C for Friday,” he said.
It’s worth remembering that summer has yet to arrive in Australia. It is still Spring. The first official day of summer is 1 December.
The hottest month of the year in Australia is January. In NSW, the warmest year on record was 2014, with statewide average temperatures climbing 1.41 C above the historical average and slightly higher than the previous record set in 2009.
This year has been hot. In the three days to 3 January 2015, severe heat broke records in northern NSW by large margins, hitting 49.1 C (or 120.4 Fahrenheit) at Walgett, the hottest temperature anywhere in NSW since 1939.
Written by Peter Needham