Victoria braces for hot, windy weather and extreme fire risk as total fire ban declared

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Posted

January 04, 2019 06:22:25

Victorians have been warned to brace themselves for a scorching Friday, with temperatures in the mid-40s forecast for much of the state before a cool change causes a drop of up to 20 degrees.

Key points:

  • Temperatures are expected to soar to 46 degrees Celsius in some parts of the state
  • A change will move east across the state throughout the day, bringing damaging winds, cooler temperatures and possible thunderstorms
  • Trams and regional trains will run to altered timetables

A total fire ban has been declared for the entire state, and the fire danger for the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country and North Central districts is rated as extreme.

Elsewhere in the state, the fire danger is rated as either severe or very high, with authorities warning that an expected afternoon cool change could bring “dry lightning”, which could spark new fires.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said any fires that started would be fast-moving and “uncontrollable”.

“If you have not done your preparation and your planning in relation to fire, you better get on to it, because [Friday] is going to be a high-risk day for us across the state,” Commissioner Crisp said.

The state has already endured more than 700 fires since the start of December.

Police arrested a man yesterday following a series of suspicious fires in the Nowa Nowa area in Gippsland on Wednesday and Thursday.

Police were last night interviewing the 30-year-old man, of no fixed address.

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) senior meteorologist Kevin Parkyn said most parts of the state could expect maximum temperatures in the 40s.

The mercury is tipped to rise to 46 in Mildura and Swan Hill, 45 in Bendigo and Shepparton, and 44 in Horsham and Albury-Wodonga.

A maximum of 42 degrees is forecast for Melbourne, with the temperature expected to reach 30 degrees by 10:00am (AEDT).

Gusty north to northwesterly winds will increase the fire danger, while the Environment Protection Authority is warning the hot, dry winds are likely to raise dust and reduce air quality in Melbourne and Geelong.

Country Fire Authority chief officer Steve Warrington urged people to protect themselves from radiant heat, and said the arrival of the wind change — which is expected to hit Melbourne and the Mallee about 4:00pm — would be a particularly dangerous time.

BOM warned this cold front, which will travel east across the state throughout the day, will bring damaging winds which will average 60 to 70 kilometres per hour, with peak gusts of up to 100kph.

“The wind change is the biggest killer in our state,” Mr Warrington said.

He urged holidaymakers to consider delaying their trip home in order to avoid travelling at that time in unfamiliar conditions.

This change is set to bring cooler air from the Southern Ocean which could cause temperatures to drop suddenly by as much as 20 degrees, particularly in southern parts of the state, and bring a little rain.

Mr Parkyn warned the wind change would make water conditions more dangerous, and urged people to take extra care in the afternoon.

Seven people have died in Victorian waters since Christmas Eve.

Acting chief health officer Brett Sutton urged people to use air conditioners, fans, curtains and blinds to stay cool, drink plenty of water, check in with vulnerable people and avoid leaving children or pets in cars.

All regional trains will run to altered timetables as they adhere to speed restrictions which will add up to 20 minutes to travel times.

All Albury line trains will be replaced by coaches after midday.

In Melbourne, all trams will run to an extreme weather timetable. Route 30 trams will not run at all, and Route 82 trams between Footscray and Moonee Ponds will be replaced with buses.

After today, Victorians can look forward to a week of milder weather.

A top of 21 is forecast for Melbourne tomorrow, with maximum temperatures in the 20s forecast until Thursday.

Topics:

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