Record-break­ing heat­wave to hit Aus­tralia’s south-east, re­strict­ing sport­ing events

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines - Calla Wahlquist

The route of cy­cling’s Tour Down Un­der has been short­ened and play­ers at the Aus­tralian Open will be given 10minute heat stress breaks as south­east­ern Aus­tralia braces for a five-day heat­wave.

Parts of cen­tral West­ern Aus­tralia, South Aus­tralia, Vic­to­ria, New South Wales and Tas­ma­nia are fore­cast to ex­pe­ri­ence a se­vere heat­wave un­til Thurs­day, with the hot weather con­tract­ing to New South Wales and Queens­land on Fri­day and Satur­day.

Tour Down Un­der or­gan­is­ers an­nounced a plan to shorten the sec­ond stage be­tween Nor­wood in Ade­laide and An­gas­ton in the Barossa Val­ley on Wed­nes­day by 26.9km due to ex­treme heat.

They have also cut 3.4km out of the end of the first stage on Tues­day due to se­vere winds.

Tem­per­a­tures are fore­cast to top 40C, which race di­rec­tor Mike Tur­tur said would cre­ate “ex­tremely chal­leng­ing” con­di­tions for both rid­ers and spec­ta­tors.

“The safety and wel­fare of the rid­ers, spec­ta­tors and ev­ery­one in­volved with the race is al­ways our pri­mary con­cern,” he said.

The hottest spot in NSW will be Menindee, near Bro­ken Hill, with fore­cast tem­per­a­tures of 45C on Mon­day ris­ing to 47C on Thurs­day, and Fri­day ex­pected to con­trib­ute to more fish deaths.

As many as 1m fish are be­lieved to have died in two mass fish kills in the Menindee Lakes since De­cem­ber.

The heat­wave is caused by a strong high-pres­sure sys­tem that has dragged hot air from the Pil­bara in West­ern Aus­tralia, where tem­per­a­tures in Mar­ble Bar have been above 40C since midDe­cem­ber, said Ash­leigh Langey from the Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy.

Tem­per­a­tures in Syd­ney are ex­pected to peak on Fri­day at 34C, with overnight tem­per­a­tures re­main­ing as high as 22C. Pen­rith in the west­ern sub­urbs is fore­cast to reach 45C on Fri­day.

“It will be quite hard to sleep,” Langey said.

Play­ers in the Aus­tralian Open will strug­gle through tem­per­a­tures of 35C in Mel­bourne on Mon­day and Tues­day, but BoM se­nior fore­caster Michael Efron said a com­bi­na­tion of af­ter­noon sea breezes and weak northerly winds would pro­tect the city from the worst of the heat­wave.

But he said the UV rat­ings would re­main ex­treme over much of the state, “so if you’re out­side watch­ing the ten­nis, do slip slop slap”.

The tour­na­ment in­tro­duced a new heat pol­icy this year af­ter play­ers suf­fered from heat ex­haus­tion in 2018, which in­cludes sus­pend­ing play on out­side courts and al­low­ing play­ers in men’s sin­gles matches to take a 10minute break dur­ing ex­treme heat.

Efron said hot weather records could be bro­ken in north­ern Vic­to­ria, with tem­per­a­tures of 46C fore­cast for Mil­dura on Tues­day and Mil­dura, Swan Hill and Echuca on Wed­nes­day. Al­buryWodonga, Shep­par­ton and Wan­garatta are also fore­cast to be very hot.

The hottest tem­per­a­ture ever recorded in Mil­dura is 46.9C.

“If we get to 47C in the next cou­ple of days then we will be break­ing not just Jan­uary records but all-time hot weather records as well,” Efron said. He warned peo­ple in the north and north-east of the state to keep an eye on vul­ner­a­ble neigh­bours, as overnight tem­per­a­tures were ex­pected to re­main in the low to mid 20s.

The fire danger rat­ing in Vic­to­ria has been set as se­vere in some north­ern dis­tricts from Tues­day to Thurs­day, with Tues­day af­ter­noon ex­pected to be the worst, but Efron said the lack of strong northerly winds had pre­vented the fire danger from tip­ping over into ex­treme.

Pho­to­graph: Tracey Nearmy/AAP

Ten­nis­go­ers at the Aus­tralian Open cool off dur­ing hot weather. Play­ers will strug­gle throughtem­per­a­tures of 35C in Mel­bourne on Mon­day and Tues­day. A record-break­ing heat­wave isfore­cast to hit north­ern Vic­to­ria.

Pho­to­graph: Bren­dan Es­pos­ito/AAP

A tod­dler cools off with a gar­den hose in aback­yard in Syd­ney’s west. Pen­rith is fore­cast to reach 45C on Fri­day.

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