Sydney is expected to reach a blistering high of 41 degrees today, as a huge hot air mass formed over Australia’s Red Centre moves to the south-east.
The Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology says there’s a UV alert from 8:40 this morning until 4:50 this evening.
A cooler southerly change is expected to enter the south of New South Wales around 8 or 9pm, with gusty winds moving west to northwesterly.
With sea breezes down to a minimum, temperatures will be fairly consistent across the Sydney Basin, with Bondi Beach and Penrith both expected to reach 41 degrees also.
Sydney has only reached similar scorching temperatures once before, in November 1982, when it hit 41.8 degrees according to Fairfax Media.
An extreme fire danger warning is forecast for Eastern and Northern Riverina and a severe fire damage warning for Illawarra/Shoalhaven and Southern Ranges.
New South Wales Health is advising people to drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, sugary and warm drinks, and to only venture outside if necessary.
There are no plans to close schools due to the heat, Fairfax Media reports.
Peter Hannam, Environment Editor from the Sydney Morning Herald, says researchers at the University of Hawaii believe west winds in the Pacific Ocean, which normally blow roughly along the equator, are to blame.
“At this point in the El Nino cycle they blame the blob, a huge pool of warm water stretching off California into the Pacific. The area is a couple degrees warmer than usual and has greater conditions that have kept those winds further north than normal.
“One result is that this so-called battery of heat is not discharging as it should be by now,” he says.
He says the El Nino is expected to linger into the middle of 2016, one or two months longer than usual.