Authorities braced for three days of sweltering heat with an extreme fire threat warning for numerous regions, a total fire ban in effect and some schools closed.
Hot and dry conditions are forecast for Monday along the NSW coast and the central west, with parts of the state tipped to experience severe conditions through Wednesday.
A widespread heat wave warning has been issued, with temperatures tipping above 40C in some areas and large parts of the state are under a total fire ban.
The heat wave will also affect parts of Queensland and Western Australia.
The NSW Department of Education has closed 34 schools in areas of increased bushfire risk in the central areas, where extreme fire hazard ratings have been declared.
Temperatures in Sydney are expected to rise to 38 degrees on Monday.
On Tuesday it drops slightly to 34C, with temperatures will remain in the high 20s for the rest of the week and a few showers possible on Saturday.
Large parts of Australia are on the verge of scorching Monday. The hottest parts of the country are in red, where the temperature will be 40C-plus
The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted an extreme fire hazard for the Greater Hunter, Central Ranges and Lower Central West Plains.
Those areas can expect hot and dry conditions coupled with fresh and gusty northwesterly winds.
High-level isolated thunderstorms are possible during the early morning around the southern and central ranges, then develop over the northeastern ranges in the afternoon, the agency said.
“Little to no rain is expected with thunderstorms.”
The NSW Rural Fire Service says extreme fire danger extends across much of the state.
There is a total fire ban in effect for the Greater Hunter, Northern Slopes, North Western, Upper and Lower Central West Plains, Central Ranges, and Southern Ranges zones.
Early Monday morning, there were already 35 fires in the state, including four that were out of control.
Western NSW is the biggest concern as authorities warned affected regions to be on high alert.
“Before the 2019/20 fires, there was nothing because it was drought and just dust,” NSW RFS commissioner Bob Rogers told the Today show on Monday.
“There is grass over a foot high and ready to burn and these fires are moving incredibly fast.
The bush areas that did not burn in that 2019/20 area are also ready to burn.”
He called for all fires to be reported immediately to triple-0.
“We need to get to the fires quickly today,” Commissioner Rogers said.
“It’s been a few years since people have had this level of fire threat.”
“Don’t be complacent and pay close attention. The risk is absolutely there.’
North of the border, Brisbane is poised to endure a week of hot temperatures, with the mercury set to exceed 30°C every day, peaking at 34°C on Wednesday and Thursday.
By the end of the week it will be partly cloudy and showers are expected on Friday and Saturday.
Surf Life Saving Queensland’s Nathan Fyfe urged those heading to the beach in the coming days to flee the heat to swim at supervised sites and swim between the flags.
Sydneysiders, like the Bondi Beach swimmer, will be looking to cool down this week with temperatures rising
Elsewhere in the country, parts of Tasmania could see snow.
Heavy rainfall in the Top End continues to pose flood risks and has blocked a major transport route to Western Australia.
Western Australia has had some relief from the heat wave, with some very isolated patches of low-intensity heat waves set to occur over the next week.
Melbourne can expect a cool week after the steamy weekend, with highs ranging from 17C to 24C and possible showers on Wednesday.
Damaging winds will hit western Victoria and southeastern South Australia later on Sunday.
Eastern Victoria and southeastern NSW can see severe thunderstorms bringing large hail, damaging winds and heavy rainfall that can lead to flash flooding.
Severe thunderstorms could also threaten Tasmania on Sunday evening, with heavy rainfall that could lead to flash flooding, although they are expected to clear by Monday morning.
Sarah Scully, senior meteorologist for the Bureau of Meteorology, said hot conditions on the East Coast are due to shifting hot north winds moving in front of a cold front.
“The heat will peak across much of Victoria on Sunday with a cold front on the way, and it is expected to move through Adelaide by mid-afternoon and through Melbourne on Sunday evening,” she said.
‘We expect low-intensity heatwaves for parts of eastern NSW…while south-east Australia will have a series of cold fronts with temperatures falling well below average
“Wednesday there is even a chance of snow over the higher parts of Tasmania.”
Some of the higher elevations in Tasmania, such as Mt Wellington (pictured), can see snow
Heavy downpours will continue to hit the Top End, courtesy of a monsoon trough descending on Cape York Peninsula above Queensland.
“That’s pulling moisture over northern Australia at the moment, increasing storm activity,” said Ms Scully.
A number of flood warnings and watches have been issued in the northern parts of the country.
“There are a number of community impacts, very heavy rains in the Top End last week led to the evacuation of a number of communities – it’s actually lessened, but that large body of water that caused those floods last week is flowing downstream.
“This has caused flooding across the Victoria River crossing, the main transportation route between the NT and WA, and it is expected to remain impassable until Thursday.”
Capitals – four-day forecast
Monday: Sunny. Minimum 21, maximum 36
Tuesday: Partly cloudy. Minimum 21, maximum 34
Wednesday: Sunny. min 19, max 31
Monday: Partly cloudy. Min16, Max24
Tuesday: Partly cloudy. min 15, max 21
Wednesday: Shower or two. Min14, Max17
Monday: Partly cloudy. Min20, Max31
Tuesday: Sunny. Minimum 21, maximum 33
Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Minimum 23, maximum 34
Monday: Possible shower. Min15, Max22
Tuesday: Cloudy. min14, max21
Wednesday: Shower or two. min14, max21
Monday: Sunny. Min 15, Max 29
Tuesday: Partly cloudy. Min13, Max25
Wednesday: Partly cloudy. min 11, max 20
Monday: Sunny. Minimum 15, maximum 29
Tuesday: Sunny. Min 15, Max34
Wednesday: Shower or two. Min20, Max31
Monday: showers. Possible thunderstorm. Minimum 26, maximum 31
Tuesday: showers. Possible thunderstorm. Minimum 25, maximum 31
Wednesday: showers. Possible thunderstorm. Minimum 25, maximum 32
Monday: Decreasing showers. Minimum 16, maximum 23
Tuesday: showers. Getting windy. Min12, Max17
Wednesday: Shower or two. min8, max15
Source: Bureau of Meteorology
Perth is in for another hot week, with maximum temperatures ranging from 27C to 34C, peaking on Tuesday. The weather will be sunny at the start of the week, with showers possible on Wednesday before clearing up again on Friday.
Adelaide will be cloudy, with showers possible on Monday and Wednesday. Temperatures remain relatively cool, hovering around 20°C before rising to a maximum of 25°C on Friday and Saturday.
It will be a gloomy week for Hobart with rain expected Monday through Wednesday. Cooler temperatures will reach a maximum of 23°C on Monday before dropping to 15°C on Wednesday.
Canberra is facing a week of beautiful weather after a stormy weekend, with partly cloudy skies and maximum temperatures ranging from 29C on Monday to 20C on Wednesday.
It will be a very wet week for Darwin, with showers and possible storms expected every day except Friday. Maximum temperatures hover around 30 degrees throughout the week with minimum temperatures of 25C.