Coping with Australia's heatwave

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 11:50 09/01/2013

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Kiwis sweltering alongside Australians in New South Wales say this week's heatwave has been "devastatingly cruel" to all who dare brave it.

While the scorching temperatures in the southeastern states have temporarily subsided, officials have warned residents they are not out of the woods yet with more heatwaves expected throughout summer.

Kiwis living across the Tasman have described the sweltering conditions as "unbelievable".

Temperature's which soared past 40 degrees Celsius yesterday in some New South Wales towns, combined with already tinder dry conditions made for a perfect storm in a country plagued with bushfires every summer.

Fire crews battled hundreds of blazes yesterday, with at least 40 burning uncontrolled at any given time, but luckily no lives were lost.

Anna Duggan, a New Zealander living in one of the hottest places - Wagga Wagga, said it was difficult to find refuge.

"You can't escape the heat to some extent, we have evaporative air-conditioning and that does very little to ease it.

"We go to the river and pool to cool off although your hot again no sooner have you left, and have been placing iceblocks in the dogs paddling pool so he can cool off - it's the animals you really feel for."

She said movie theatres, malls and bowling alleys had been packed with people simply gravitating toward industrial air conditioning.

Cassidy Moeke, formerly of Wellington, said the heat in Sydney was unbearable.

"Not only do you have the hot sun glaring down on you, but the wind is scorching hot too."

In Cherrybrook, north-east Sydney, the Forrester family had covered all their windows in blankets to try to stop the heat coming in.

"Our home weather station peaked at 44C at 4pm [yesterday].

"Outside felt like an oven - dry and hot as hell.  We went into lock-down first thing [yesterday] morning, adding extra insulation to the windows to keep out the heat. The air-conditioner is roaring, and we are basking in a mild 28C inside the house."

Climate scientists have said the heatwaves would only get more frequent and worse in the weeks and years to come.

The hottest average maximum temperature ever recorded across Australia - 40.33C - was set on Monday, but averages for yesterday's highs were yet to come in.

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It was expected that record would only stand for 24 hours, when the previous record had stood since December 21, 1972.

- Stuff

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