'Hot core' keeps Australia baking

21:28, Jan 10 2013
Tasmaniabush fire
A fire at Tasmania's Forcett, 30km from Hobart, sends smoke over Park Beach.
Tasmaniabush fire
Fire burning near Dodges Ferry, a small town in south eastern Tasmania.
Tasmaniabush fire
The settlement of Dunalley, about 40 kilometres east of Hobart, was one of the worst hit by the Tasmanian bush fires.
Tasmaniabush fire
Police Rescue Helicopter crewman Matthew Drumm looks out at the destruction.
Australia heatwave 2013
Exercise groups train at sunrise to beat the heat on Sydney's Bronte Beach as temperatures are expected to reach record highs.
Australia heatwave 2013
Water bombing at Oura, near Wagga Wagga. New South Wales faces its worst fire risk with temperatures predicted to hit the mid to high 40s.
Australia heatwave 2013
Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons (C) at the State Operation Centre.
Australian heat
Kutchani, a female lion, eats a frozen milk iceblock at Sydney's Taronga Zoo.
Australian heatwave
Smoke rises from the Yarrabin bushfire burning out of control near Cooma, south of Canberra.
Australia heatwave
A bush fire burning near Cooma, south of Canberra.
clothesline
Singed clothes hang from a clothesline in a backyard affected by a bushfire at Boomer Bay, about 40 kilometres east of Hobart.
Australia heatwave
Fire crossing Princes Highway at Deans Gap fire in Shoalhaven, southern NSW.
Australia heatwave
A deserted petrol station, close to a fire south west of Wandandian, NSW.
Australia heatwave
NSW Rural Fire Service crews tackle a deliberately lit bushfire near Bidwill in Sydney's west.
Australia heatwave
Carngham Station, in Victoria, was destroyed in the state's bushfires.
Australia heatwave
A fireman working on flames near Ballarat, Victoria.
Australia heatwave
NSW Rural Fire Service crews water-bombing fires at Bungendore.
Australia heatwave
'Mopping-up" spot fires at Sandhills in Bungendore, Australia.
Australia fires
An aerial photo of the fire threatening the Siding Springs Observatory.
Australia fires
The fire moves in on the observatory in Siding Springs, in rural NSW.
Australia fires
The Siding Spring Observatory the morning after the fire swept through.
Australia fires
Several buildings at the Siding Spring Observatory were damaged.
Australia bushfires
A fire danger sign on the Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne gives a grim warning to locals.
NSW fire at Coonabarabran
Fire burns alongside the Newell Highway near Coonabarabran, about 350km northwest of Sydney.
Australia bush fires
A children's playground destroyed by the massive bushfire in rural New South Wales.
Australia bush fires
Robina and Felicity Otrupcek standing in front of Robina's home that was water-bombed and remained unscathed as fire burnt through the New South Wales property.
Australia bush fires
The changed landscape of Baradine Road at Coonabarabran, which was hit by one of New South Wales' worst bushfires in history.
victoria bush fires
Trying to keep cool at the Big Day Out in Sydney.
victoria bush fires
Crowds at Wanda Beach as temperatures begin to fall in Sydney.
victoria bush fires
Swimmers and sun bathers at Victoria Park Pool, in Sydney's Glebe.
victoria bush fires
Sydneysiders cool off in Botany Bay near Yarra Bay.
victoria bush fires
Frantic efforts to damp down properties as the fire approaches.
victoria bush fires
Firefighers battling a bushfire in Aberdare, New South Wales.
Ku-Ring-Gai
A fire burns in Ku-Ring-Gai National Park, north of Sydney.

It is the heatwave that won't go away.

Even cyclone Narelle, wandering off the north-west coast of Western Australia, has so far failed to budge the giant heat cell over the continent.

"The system is holding its shape," said the manager of climate monitoring at the weather bureau, Karl Braganza. "You are still getting the hot core over the inland."

But the core is stretching eastward again, sending the mercury higher for populated regions ranging from Victoria to Queensland.

Sea breezes are forecast to keep the temperatures in Sydney to peaks of 33 and 34 degrees Celsius on Friday and Saturday, according to the latest forecasts. But move inland to Bankstown and days of 41 and 39 await.

Melbourne can expect 37 on Friday before a cool change arrives and keeps temperatures down for a week.

NSW and Victoria have declared total fire bans for Friday. The better news is that the weather pattern looks to be less threatening than earlier in the week.

''Winds are not expected to be as strong as last Tuesday's,'' said Julie Evans, a senior meteorologist at the bureau.

Records, meanwhile, continue to fall. Leonora in central Western Australia claimed the temperature peak for the fortnight-long heatwave, notching 49 degrees on Wednesday.

The remote town had broken its previous record just a day earlier at 48.3. The 47.8 level reached on Monday matched a high that had stood for about 55 years.

Weatherzone, owned by Fairfax Media, predicts several towns from Birdsville to Moomba will come close to 50 degrees in coming days.

This week the bureau drew international attention after it added extra colour to its forecast charts to extend the range to 54 degrees.

The first eight days of 2013 made it into the top 20 hottest days for Australia in more than a century and the massive heat dome over the continent shows little sign of moving on.

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Cyclone Narelle
Nature's wrath ... a spectacular gust front associated with cyclone Narelle was captured about 25 nautical miles north-west of Onslow in Western Australia on Wednesday. The red tinge results from dust picked up from the Pilbara.

Fairfax Media