Temperatures in the Australian capital Canberra have set a new monthly record amid an advancing bushfire that has prompted a state of emergency declaration. The city declared its first state of emergency in nearly two decades last week in anticipation of a heatwave and predictions that fires could hit the southern suburbs.
On Saturday 1st Feb, temperatures in Canberra hit 42.7 degrees Celsius (108.9 degrees Fahrenheit), an all-time high for February that broke a record of 42.2 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit) set in 1968, Meteo France weather forecaster Etienne Kapikian said on Twitter.
The new record along with all-time highs in January and December make the 2019-2020 summer the hottest on record, he said.
The state of emergency declared on Thursday is the first in the Australian Capital Territory, which includes Canberra and some surrounding townships, since 2003, when fires destroyed almost 500 homes.
Authorities say the searing heat, accompanied by dry winds, could bring severe bushfire conditions to parts of New South Wales and Victoria. More than 80 fires are still burning across the two states.
Storms are forecast to follow the heatwave, bringing rain that could help dampen fires but also carry the potential for wild weather, including flash flooding.
Extreme weather has battered parts of Australia in recent weeks, bringing giant hail, floods and
Scientists say the bushfire disaster was likely exacerbated by climate change, coming on the back of a crippling drought that turned forests into a tinderbox and allowed blazes to spread out of control quickly.