Sydney survives near-record heatwave

The mercury hit an almost 80-year high of 47.3 degrees Celsius in Sydney on Sunday, just shy of the city’s all-time high of 47.8 degrees Celsius in 1939.

New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said the state’s heatwave plan had been activated to respond to “severe to extreme heat conditions”, with thousands of homes left without power.

While there were blackouts in parts of Sydney’s Ausgrid network due to heavy use and cable outages, the national power system held up, and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) says it is prepared despite the closure of the Hazelwood power station and a number of gas-fired power stations.

Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Dr Blair Trewin said the weekend’s hot conditions in Victoria and South Australia were mostly at a level expected every couple of years.

While last month was one to two degrees above normal across much of eastern Australia, the forecast is not looking as hot in the months ahead.

“The outlook for the remainder of the summer, particularly the later part of the summer, leans on the cooler of the normal side in much of New South Wales and Queensland,” Dr Trewin said.