Hottest year on record declared as heatwave intensifies on Australia’s east coast

Madeleine AchenzaNCA NewsWire
Not Supplied
Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: NCA NewsWire

It’s official — 2023 has been declared the hottest year on record, with a few weeks still to go.

The European Union’s Climate Change Service. made the declaration on Friday as some parts of Australia prepare for a searing weekend heatwave.

The last time the record was broken was in 2016.

Western Sydney residents could experience temperatures of 38C on Friday, while the inner-city hits 30C.

By Saturday, the mercury is set to soar up to 44C in parts of the west — the last time this happened was during the height of the Black Summer bushfires in 2019/2020.

The last time Sydney recorded temperatures about 44C was during the Black Summer in 2019.

Heatwaves are being reported in multiple states with Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT among those reporting temperatures in the high 30s and low 30s.

Climate Council director of research Dr Simon Bradshaw said the record declaration was not a surprise and was consistent with what scientists warned would happen as climate change accelerates.

“This ferocious heat, and the confirmation that this year is the hottest on record is consistent with what science has warned us to expect,” he said.

He strongly urged Australians to take the advice of local health authorities to avoid the worst of the heat this weekend and reduce their risk of developing heat stroke.

Heatwave conditions Friday. Picture BoM.JPG
Camera IconSevere heatwave, indicated in orange, gripped most of the state from Wednesday to Thursday. BoM Credit: NCA NewsWire
Heatwave hits Sydney. Picture BoM.JPG
Camera IconBy Friday, spots of extreme heatwave conditions develop, indicated in red, while the severe heatwave, indicated in orange, moves towards the coast. BOM Credit: NCA NewsWire

“Heatwaves are silent killers. The human body can only cope with so much and it’s critical that today and over the weekend, Australians heed the advice of their local health authorities, stay vigilant and look after each other,” Dr Bradshaw said.


Heatwave conditions have gripped the state for three days already, and have slowly crept their way through almost every town with varying degrees of intensity.

Severe heatwave conditions have covered most of the north of the state with a thin band of lower level heatwave reaching from the north to the southern border along the coastline.

Fire danger on Saturday. Picture RFS NSW.JPG
Camera IconFire danger will elevate to extreme levels, indicated in orange, on Saturday in Greater Sydney, the Central West and Southern Slopes regions. Picture RFS NSW Credit: NCA NewsWire

By Friday, spots of extreme heatwave conditions will develop over the Central West Slopes and Plains regions, as severe heat pushes towards the coast.

The state government has closed 19 schools due to extreme bushfire risk on Friday, as the danger level rises to extreme levels in parts of south-west NSW including Griffith, Murrumbidgee and Wentworth.

The NSW schools that will be closed due to bushfire risk:

  • Barellan Central School
  • Binya Public School
  • Clare Public School
  • Coleambally Central School
  • Darlington Point Public School
  • Goolgowi Public School
  • Hillston Central School
  • Lake Wyangan Public School
  • Narrandera East Infants School
  • Narrandera High School
  • Palinyewah Public School
  • Pooncarie Public School
  • Rankins Springs Public School
  • Tharbogang Public School
  • Wamoon Public School
  • Whitton-Murrami Public School
  • Yanco Public School
  • Yenda Public School
  • Yoogali Public School

South Australia

A severe heatwave has sent temperatures soaring in recent days, but is expected to ease on Friday, with southern parts of the state likely to reach a high of 33C as a band of thunderstorms is ushered in.

The small town of Marree, in the north of the state, was the hottest place on Earth on Wednesday with a high of 46C recorded.

However, heatwave conditions should dissolve by Saturday when a new weather system moves settles over the south of the country bringing a potentially dangerous cocktail of weather.

Catastrophic fire danger forecast for SA. Picture Country Fire Service SA
Camera IconCatastrophic fire danger is forecast large parts of South Australia on Friday. Country Fire Service SA Credit: NCA NewsWire

Heavy rain, severe thunderstorms and damaging winds are all possible in the next 48 hours as a strong cold front sweeps across the south of the country.

The wild weather is forecast to coincide with catastrophic fire danger warnings in place on Friday over the Eyre Peninsula, Flinders Ranges, Yorke Peninsula, Riverland and regions just north of Adelaide.

A welcome sigh of relief will arrive on Saturday with up to 25mm of rain forecast to fall, and a possible total of up to 40mm by the end of the weekend.

Seven day rain totals in SA. Picture: WeatherZone
Camera IconSeven day rain totals over South Australia to Tuesday. WeatherZone Credit: NCA NewsWire

Modelling shown on WeatherZone has predicted a total of between 100mm and 200mm of rainfall could fall over the seven day period to Tuesday.


From the northern tip of the state and reaching from the east to west border in the south, a severe heatwave warning is in place until Saturday.

Locations likely to be impacted include Aurukun, Birdsville, Cunnamulla, Goondiwindi, Mapoon, Quilpie, St George, Thursday Island, Thargomindah and Weipa.

Tropical Cyclone Jasper. Picture WeatherZone
Camera IconTropical Cyclone Jasper could make landfall over the weekend. WeatherZone Credit: NCA NewsWire

There is a high fire danger across most of the state on Friday.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Jasper has strengthened to category 4 intensity on Friday morning and is moving to the south through the northeast of the Coral Sea.

Over the weekend, the cyclone is likely to weaken while turning westward towards the Queensland coast.

“While the timing of a coastal impact remains highly uncertain, the highest risk of a cyclone impact lies between Cooktown and Mackay, including Cairns and Townsville,” the Bureau of Meteorology said in their morning cyclone update.

“As Jasper approaches the coast there is a risk of re-intensification and the potential for severe impacts.”

Originally published as Hottest year on record declared as heatwave intensifies on Australia’s east coast

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails