Australia is currently the hottest country in the world, taking all of the top ten spots for global towns and cities in the last 24 hours.
In second place is Birdsville Airport in Queensland at 46.5C and Nullarbor, also in SA, with a maximum of 46.4C – with the remaining seven places all being Australian spots.
A Bureau of Meteorology spokesman agreed it is a ‘possibility’ that Australia is the hottest country in the world today but said they would wait for final results.
A low pressure system is spreading a heatwave across from SA, through western NSW and northern Victoria, and has now hit the NSW east coast, including Sydney.
Beachgoers wash off at the showers at Bondi Beach as hundreds gather on the sand and water behind them. Sydney was initially forecast to reach a maximum of 39C on Saturday but has now exceeded this to reach 40C, making it the hottest capital city in the country
A woman buys a snowcone, which is made of shaved ice, to cool off at at Bondi Beach
A heat map of the world shows that Australia is currently the hottest country on the whole planet. Dark red colouring the island nation shows it is warmer than countries in Africa, South America and Asia
Sydney was initially forecast to reach a maximum of 39C on Saturday but has now exceeded this to reach 40C, making it the hottest Australian capital city.
Residents understandably headed to the beach in huge crowds that have not been seen since before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fearing another wave of infection, NSW Health urged people to either socially distance at the beach, swim and immediately leave or stay home altogether.
‘NSW Health again urges people to practice COVID-19 safe behaviour while taking the necessary precautions to avoid heat stress this weekend,’ a spokesman said.
‘People who can cool their home through a combination of fans, air-conditioning and closed blinds are asked to do so and stay at home.
‘People going to the beach or pool should keep 1.5m from anyone other than those in their own household.
‘To ensure everyone has an opportunity to enjoy the water and keeps out of the heat, we encourage people to swim and leave.’
Despite this, Bondi and Clovelly Beaches in Sydney’s east and Manly Beach in the city’s north were pictured packed with people looking to make the most of the heat.
Judging by the placement of towels, most people appeared to be socially distanced, although some groups were quite close together.
People cool off in a pool at Bronte, which neighbours Bondi and is a coastal walk away
Swimmers cool off in the ocean at Bondi Beach while others sun bake on the sand
A woman enjoys a snow cone on an extremely hot day at Bondi Beach, Sydney
Many people brought umbrellas for shelter from the sun as they relaxed at Bondi Beach. Beachgoers are advised to use sun protection as the UV index will be ‘extreme’ at 11 to 12, which will be very damaging for skin
An active-wear couple go for a walk in Bondi, using the sea breeze to cool themselves down
Furry friends were also keen to cool down with their owners at Bondi’s rock pools
Meanwhile, Newcastle and Gosford both reached highs of 38C while Wollongong also felt the heat with a maximum of 35C.
Beachgoers are advised to use sun protection as the UV index will be ‘extreme’ at 11 to 12, which will be very damaging for skin.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Jonathan How said the heatwave will ‘impact millions of people and create dangerous fire weather conditions for multiple states’.
Fire weather warnings have been now been issued for NSW, Victoria, SA and WA.
In addition to causing bushfires, Mr How warned the heatwave itself will be ‘a huge silent killer’ as it causes hyperthermia, dehydration and skin cancer.
‘The hot days and warm nights will make it difficult to recover, especially for vulnerable people,’ Mr How said.
‘People are hospitalised and it’s really dangerous so it’s important to take note of the heat and be careful.
‘Heatwaves are normal for this time of year but the temperatures and duration of this event will be exceptional.’
Heatwaves have killed more people than cyclones, flooding and bushfires combined in Australia in the last 100 years, making it the country’s biggest killer.
Manly Beach in Sydney’s north was also filled with locals trying to cool down in the ocean
While most were cooling down in the ocean, volleyball players had their game faces on as they competed at Manly Beach, despite 40C weather
A cow cools off in the Bellingen River in NSW, where it reached 37C
Locals enjoy some cold ones in the Bellingen River on a hot day for the rural locality
One man was so thirsty he ‘double parked’ and had two beers at once in the Bellingen River
Adelaide is not far behind Sydney with a maximum of 37C on Saturday – but rain developing in the late afternoon may provide some reprieve.
SA towns such as Coober Pedy, Port Augusta, Roxby Downs, Moomba and Renmark will all reach maximums of 47C on Saturday.
Inland NSW towns Broken Hill, Ivanhoe and Wicannia will see temperatures in the low to mid 40s on Saturday before the weather moves to the coast on Sunday.
Mildura in regional Victoria is expected to reach 45C while Horsham and Bendigo in the state’s north will reach the high 30s.
Melbourne will largely escape the heat with a pleasant maximum of 25 degrees on Saturday, while Hobart will be just 22C.
On the West Coast, Perth has a maximum of 25C and cloudy weather, which is expected to persist later into the week.
Canberra will have a maximum temperature of 34 degrees on Saturday – a figure that matches Darwin in the Northern Territory, which will also reach 34 degrees.
An aerial view of people sunbaking at Clovelly Beach, which features concrete sections along the side for easy access to swimming
A woman dives under water at Clovelly Beach, which is a popular spot for snorkellers. Blue groupers, sting rays and even the deadly blue-ringed octopus are often sited at the popular swimming spot
A woman smiles as she speaks to her friend via Bluetooth while walking through Manly Beach on a scorching day
‘On Saturday, severe to extreme fire dangers will continue in South Australia and extend into Northern Victoria and in parts of NSW,’ Mr How said.
‘And on Sunday, very high to severe fire dangers are forecast for eastern NSW and southeast Queensland.
‘People should also be aware of severe heatwave conditions over inland parts, reaching the coast over the weekend and intensifying to extreme levels for northeast NSW and southeast Queensland into next week.’
Brisbane and southeast Queensland will be the last to feel the heatwave, which will not be as strong by the time it reaches the Sunshine State.
The Queensland capital is forecast for a maxim of 29C on Saturday, which reach 32C on Sunday and peak at 34C on Wednesday.
Like Sydney and Adelaide, there is also an ‘extreme’ UV index of 12 and ‘high’ danger of fire in Brisbane.
Toowoomba and Gympie have maximums of 35C forecast for Sunday while St George further inland will reach a maximum of 41C.
‘The vigorous southerly wind change won’t make it all the way up the coast. There is the risk of thunderstorms with dry lightning on the change, which could ignite new fires,’ Mr How said.
‘Sweltering conditions will persist through northeast NSW and southeast Queensland into next week, with little relief until Thursday.’
Surf rescue carefully watch swimmers at Manly