'Hot core' keeps Australia baking
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.