SYDNEY – As Australia enters their hottest summer months, the nation’s largest city prepares to endure days of skyrocketing temperatures. Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, already dealt with their hottest November night ever on Friday, and the heat is not projected to go away anytime soon.
This comes as Australia is dealing with a heatwave across the continent. Nighttime temperatures in the Sydney suburb of Observatory Hill reached a minimum of 77.7 F, a record for the city. This broke a record that had been in effect since 1967. Scientists from the Sydney Morning Herald noted that “if the temperature hits 40 degrees [104 F] on Sunday as predicted, it will be only the second time on record that the city has recorded two consecutive November days with temperatures above 40 degrees.”
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) warned citizens of the increasing temperatures and also to check on neighbors. Fire brigades across the state were also put on high alert, especially in the more rural farmland areas that are prone to summer wildfires. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has responded to over 100 wildfires since Friday, and the increased response is expected to continue as the heat rises.
The Rural Fire Service has put out fire response plans for those living in rural areas. The deputy commissioner, Peter McKechnie, told residents to prepare, stating that “this is the first time since the devastating season last year we’ve seen widespread fire danger. Know what to do if a fire threatens you, know where you’ll go.”
The BOM also put out warnings in other Australian territories as well. As the temperatures rose, “low-intensity level heatwaves can be seen through western Queensland, New South Wales and most of the Northern Territory and South Australia.” Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland, also saw temperatures of at least 104 F, with temperatures expected to stay hot throughout the week and possibly into the middle of next week.
As the heat increased throughout Saturday, Sydneysiders went out in droves to the beach, eager to head into the water and catch some waves. This led to a number of increased ambulance calls from those overcome with heat. NSW Ambulance Inspector Kay Armstrong urged beachgoers to be careful, advising people to “drink lots of water, get into the shade, don’t be out in this heat in the middle of the day. Look after yourselves and re-hydrate continuously.”
With the beaches filling up, concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic arose as well. Despite Australia generally doing well with the pandemic, with less than 1000 deaths total, officials at Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach encouraged people to follow social distancing guidelines. This includes keeping at least a beach towel’s length away from people that aren’t in their immediate party, and washing hands vigorously.