WA swelters with forecasts for 50 degrees

The town of Onslow in Western Australia’s Pilbara has roasted through one of its hottest days on record, with temperatures soaring to an almost unbearable 48.



And forecasters are warning of an even hotter day to come on Thursday, with the national heat record of 50.7C likely to come under threat.

The weather station at Onslow Airport, nearly 1400 kilometres north of Perth, was in danger of frying as it recorded temperatures of more than 40C at 9am local time on Wednesday.

It peaked at 48.7C at 2.12pm (WST).

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts the Pilbara region around Emu Creek will potentially reach more than 50C on Thursday afternoon.

Temperature higher than 50C has been documented three times in Australia since records began over a century ago.

Mardie, also in the Pilbara, was the most recent to reach the level, in 1998, failing to beat the record set in the South Australian outback town of Oodnadatta on January 2, 1960, which reached 50.7C.

Soaring temperatures in the west follow an unprecedented new-year heatwave in which 34 locations – mostly in Queensland and NSW and with at least 40 years of data – recording their hottest-ever days between December 30 and January 4.

Queensland recorded its hottest day on January 2, with a statewide average maximum of 41.82C.

Narrabri in NSW broke the record high temperature by 3.6 degrees – the largest margin by which a long-term record has been topped.

And cities and towns including Tamworth, Gunnedah, Moree, Glen Innes and Inverell in NSW, and Toowoomba, Roma, Blackall, St George and Gympie in Queensland all experienced their hottest-ever days.

The heat in the Pilbara is caused by the super-heated air mass that hit the east coast earlier in the month, and which has circled the continent since forming over the Nullarbor in late December.

The bureau’s Annual Climate Statement from 2013 confirmed last year was Australia’s hottest on record.

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