Hottest September day on record sends the mercury over 40

Septembert heat records across 40 per cent of NSW are expected to tumble on Saturday. Photo: Fiona Morris
Septembert heat records across 40 per cent of NSW are expected to tumble on Saturday. Photo: Fiona Morris

As much as 40 per cent of NSW is expected to set September heat records on Saturday as bushfire crews prepare for a busy afternoon. The state also notched its first 40-degree reading for September.

A total 60 bush and grass fires, including 11 that are not contained, were alight shortly after 1pm, according to the NSW Rural Fire Service.

About half the state has been declared a Total Fire Ban day, including Sydney, Illawarra and the Hunter. The Bureau of Meteorology has also issued a fire weather warning as a complex low pressure south of the Bight draws in hot air over NSW from inland Australia.

Wilcannia Airport in northwestern NSW was the first site in the state to cross 40 degrees so early in the warming season. Its remains the hottest point in the state, with 40.4 degrees just after 1.15pm.

That reading eclipsed the previous September maximum temperature record of 39.4 degrees set in Wanaaring, also in the state's north-west, on 28 September 2004.

"The forecast is that 40 per cent of stations where temperature is measured will exceed their individual highest September records [today]," Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Andrew Haigh said.

Sydney sweats

Sydney has also warm, with a top so far of 32.2 degrees reached just after 1pm.

Inland suburbs, lacking the sea breeze relief, were considerably warmer. Penrith's 36.4 degrees may be a September record, while Richmond's 36.6 degrees so far may also be a new high for the month.

Sydneysiders are also in for a warm night with a minimum temperature of 21 degrees in the city, leading in to another 33-degree day on Sunday on current forecasts. The record high overnight temperature for September is 22 degrees.

Among the other areas to break records has been West Wyalong, in NSW's central west, which has already reached 35 degrees. Its previous September record of 34.4 degrees was set in 1980, according to Weatherzone.

Mudgee also beat its existing record of 32.2 degrees from 1965, hitting 33 degrees shortly after midday on Saturday. Bourke, Bathurst and Parkes have also hit or exceeded their previous September records.

Fire risks rise

A combination of hot and dry conditions has increased the risk of major bushfires.

One of the worst blazes on Saturday afternoon is a grass fire on Inverary Road in Paddys River. The fire threatens to close a section of the Hume Highway to the south of Sydney.

Nine fire trucks are currently battling the blaze and an aircraft is on the way, RFS spokesman James Morris said.

Mr Morris also warned families planning to go camping during the school holidays to be aware of their surroundings and respect fire bans.

"If you're going into a fairly dense section of bush with no mobile coverage, you obviously won't be able to access fire warnings," Mr Morris said.

"Be aware of your surroundings and if you're not comfortable, change your plans to somewhere a bit safer."

Weatherzone is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of this website.