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Canberra weather falls short of near-record heat forecast, BOM expects cool Christmas

Tuesday December 19, 2017 - 17:01 EDT
ABC image
Canberrans were cooling off at Jamison's Big Splash on Tuesday. - ABC

Canberra has been spared a severe summer scorcher, with temperatures failing to reach the near-record highs that were forecast.

The capital was expected to hit a high of 39 degrees Celsius, coming "very close" to the December record of 39.2C set in 1994, according to senior forecaster Neil Fraser.

Mr Fraser said a heatwave crossing over the Tasman Sea, combined with north-westerly winds bringing serious heat from central Australia, could see Canberra give the record a nudge.

But, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), the city topped out at 34.3C.

BOM's New South Wales forecasting service said a lot of the hotter temperatures stayed further north than expected.



A number of towns in the central-west NSW climbed well into the 40s, while Penrith recorded Sydney's hottest temperature of 44.1C.

"To push that warmer air mass [into Canberra] you need a more pronounced north-westerly air stream," meteorologist Jiwon Park said.

"That's why the air mass stayed further north and didn't reach Canberra and the southern tablelands."

And there is more good news for those planning an outdoor festive celebration, with no unbearable days forecast.



Peak temperatures are expected to dip to 31C on Wednesday, and down to 26C on Thursday, before climbing back to the low-to-mid 30s by Christmas Eve.

Another cool change is forecast overnight on Sunday, with Christmas Day tipped to reach 25C.

"But it could still be a bit muggy so that's why we're still thinking a few showers could be on the cards, maybe even a thunderstorm, for Christmas Day," BOM forecaster Jake Phillips said.

Children, elderly urged to take care

Director of Emergency Medicine at Calvary Hospital Stuart Stapleton said there was a high risk of heat-related stress when temperatures exceeded 35C.



"We all think a few cold beers or cold glasses of wine will help cool us down it can actually make it all worse," Dr Stapleton said.

"If you see someone who's starting to act oddly, or looks like they're having difficulty walking normally, not able to talk normally and you're in a really hot environment, you should be really worried about them."

He urged Canberrans to look after those most vulnerable to heat stress. This includes children and babies, the elderly and pregnant women.

People working outdoors, who are obese or who have a disability with impaired mobility are also more susceptible.

Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, faintness, nausea and vomiting.

In babies, parents should watch out for restlessness, irritability and fewer wet nappies than usual.


- ABC

© ABC 2017

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