Roads melting, bushfires destroy buildings as heatwave hits Australia

A short, sharp burst of very hot desert air hit South Australia and the southeastern States on Friday and Saturday, January 5 and 6, 2018, pushing temperatures above 40 °C (104 °F) and forcing authorities to issue total fire bans and health advisories.

Thousands of homes in Melbourne were left without power Saturday and roads have started to melt under intense heat, with a 10 km (6.2 miles) stretch of highway between Sidney and Melbourne disintegrating. 

A raging bushfire set several structures ablaze on the outskirts of Melbourne, capital of the southeastern state of Victoria and Australia’s second-largest city. In total, 50 fires were reported across Victoria today, although many were small and were extinguished.

Residents are advised to drink plenty of water, take care in the surf and prepare properties for bushfire risks.

“A front will move across western and southern parts of South Australia during Saturday, expecting to reach Adelaide early to mid-afternoon. And ahead of the front, the temperatures are going be very high: Large parts of the country are expected to experience over 40 °C (104 °F) – including Adelaide and Melbourne,” the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said.

“And down in eastern Tasmania we’re also expecting to see temperatures in the low to mid-30s (95 °F). The winds ahead of the front will be very gusty, particularly close to the change and also about elevated areas.

“Immediately behind the change we’re going to see a surge of southwesterly winds and they’ll bring milder temperatures: Melbourne may experience a 20 °C drop in temperature within two hours of the change moving through during the evening on Saturday.”

Wind + Temperature at 18:00 UTC, January 6, 2018. Image credit: Earth.Nullschool.net

Featured image: Buildings on fire in Melbourne on January 6, 2018. Credit: The Guardian

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