From left: Sophie Walston, Eliane Delarue and Tom Daniels from the YMCA sailing club splash in Lake Burley Griffin on Friday as Canberra reached a top of 41.6 degrees.

From left: Sophie Walston, Eliane Delarue and Tom Daniels from the YMCA sailing club splash in Lake Burley Griffin on Friday as Canberra reached a top of 41.6 degrees. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Canberra has recorded its second hottest-day on record but relief is on the way.

As the city paused to commemorate 10 years since the devastating firestorm of 2003, the Bureau of Meteorology's latest observations put the day's high point at 41.6 degrees. It is the hottest January day since records began in 1939.

Rain has been evaporating before it hits the ground but a cool change is on the way and lower temperatures are forecast for the next few days.

Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Nick Bright said the hottest day on record in Canberra was February 1, 1968, when the temperature hit 42.2 degrees.

At 3.30pm it was about 39.7 degrees.

“We're seeing spikes in the temperature – when a cloud goes over with a wind gust the temperature drops back a little bit but with a break it rises up again," Mr Bright said.

“We've got some showers coming in from the west and they're weakening as they go over the top of us and I haven't seen anything reach the ground but there might be some people who've had a few drops on them in Canberra."

He added: “It's so hot everything is evaporating before it hits the ground.”

Sydney has also set a new record for temperature, where it topped out at 45.7 degrees at 2.54pm

Many parts of NSW were hovering around 45 degrees at lunchtime on Friday as a fiery air mass from inland Australia moved over the state, pushing the mercury well above the forecast maximum.

Mr Bright said a change was expected to arrive in Canberra this evening, with an overnight minimum of 14 degrees forecast.

A top of 27 is forecast for Saturday and 29 degrees for Sunday before temperatures climb back up into the 30s early next week.

About 1200 homes in the Woden area suffered through almost two hours of a hot afternoon without power.

ActewAGL said homes in Curtin, Garran and Hughes lost power due to disruption to power lines caused by high winds.

The power outage was reported at 1.50pm, just as the temperature was getting to its hottest point of the day.

ActewAGL said power was restored by 3.30pm.

The Emergency Services Agency said today's weather conditions were more significantly hotter than expected.

"The Fire Danger Rating is currently higher than was expected and the ACT Emergency Services Agency is reminding the community to remain vigilant," it said in a statement.

"There are currently no bush or grass fires burning in the ACT."

The fire danger rating for the ACT is currently at severe and a total fire ban is place until 11.59pm on Friday.

That means that no open air fires are allowed and fireworks are banned without an exemption from the ACT Emergency Services Agency.

All non-essential activities that require the use of an open flame must be postponed until after the total fire ban has finished.

Other activities should be seriously reconsidered on days of total fire ban such as:

  • Driving or parking vehicles through long open grassed areas;
  • Using welders or grinders in open areas;
  • Undertaking mowing or slashing; and
  • Visiting remote wilderness or forested areas of the ACT.

Ceremonial fires, fires used in factories are still allowed, and gas or electric barbecues are allowed under certain conditions.

Meantime, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Googong Foreshores, Kowen Forest, Lower Molonglo River Corridor, Mulligans Flat Woodlands Sanctuary and selected roads within Namadgi National Park are closed.

The total fire ban will be lifted tomorrow, when the Fire Danger Rating will be High.

with staff reporters