Environment

Canberra's late summer heat streak breaks capital records

Canberra sweltered through record breaking heat on Thursday afternoon with a total fire ban in place across the territory.

According to Bureau of Meteorology records, the mercury reached 38 degrees around 4pm making it the warmest day recorded in late summer.

Big Splash Head Lifeguard Jacob Cumming, still on duty above and below the water after another hot day in Canberra.
Big Splash Head Lifeguard Jacob Cumming, still on duty above and below the water after another hot day in Canberra.  Photo: Jay Cronan

Weatherzone meteorologist Ben Dixon said some relief would arrive on Friday and Saturday would be the coolest day of the week.

"Temperatures will drop to 31 degrees on Friday, which is comparatively cool compared to Thursday, although still quite warn," he said.

"A change is set to move up the NSW coast overnight so we should see some inland cooling on Friday although it will be nothing overly extravagant."

Mr Dixon said there was a slight chance of a shower on Friday although it would only bring less than a millimetre to the territory.

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He said temperatures were likely to remain warm overnight and 5 degrees above the long-term average, with a minimum of 17 degrees forecast in the early hours of the morning.

On Saturday, temperatures in Canberra are tipped to drop to 26 degrees with partly cloudy skies and a 30 per cent chance of showers.

Hot temperatures and dry conditions on Thursday made work difficult for rural firefighters, who were tasked with extinguishing a bushfire near Cooma.

Close to 20 firefighters responded to the blaze, with another three-hectare fire burning near Bolaro, west of Mount Clear near the ACT border.

The conditions also worried ACT Emergency Services Agency commissioner Dominic Lane, who issued a total fire ban given north to northwesterly winds of up 20 to 30 km/h.

The above-average temperatures will be common across much of Australia, with the bureau's outlook for autumn favouring on-going warmth.

"Summer's not keen to give up in its grip on Australia just yet," Andrew Watkins, manager of climate prediction services at the bureau, said.

A relatively dry wet season across the country's north and the second-latest start to the cyclone season in a half century of records were "classic El Nino" signals, he said.

The El Nino, which is marked by weak or reversed trade winds across the Pacific, is beginning to decline but its influence on Australia - and far beyond - is likely to linger for a while yet.

- with Peter Hannam