After a relatively cool start to February, the heat has been turned on across Victoria today with temperatures soaring up to 13 degrees above average.
Heat has built up over the interior across the past fortnight due to the weakening of the monsoon trough, and is being directed over Victoria ahead of a low pressure trough.
The most intense heat has been focused over western and central parts of the state, with many locations seeing temperatures 8 to 13 degrees above average for February. Some parts of the Mallee nudged the 40 degree mark, with Mildura peaking at 40.4 degrees, the highest in the state.
Horsham in the Wimmera fell just short of 40 reaching 39.7 degrees, but this was still its hottest February day in four years. In Melbourne, the mercury climbed to 37.2 degrees, its hottest February day since 2011.
A weak cool change is making its way across the state this evening, which should reach Melbourne between 11pm and 2am tonight. However, this is not expected to bring too much relief, with the city still forecasted to reach 33 degrees tomorrow, only four degrees cooler than what it reached today.
The focus of the heat on Thursday will shift east to central, northern and eastern parts of the state, with cooler winds expected across the southwest. The mercury is again expected to soar into the mid to high 30's, with some locations possibly again exceeding 40 degrees.
The heat has combined with moderate to fresh northwesterly winds to prompt the issue of fire weather warnings and total fire bans. A fire weather warning and total fire ban is current for the remainder of today for the Wimmera, North Central, South West and Central districts.
On Thursday, the fire danger may even be higher than today as northwesterly winds freshen further. A fire weather warning has been issued for the Northern Country, North Central, North East, Central and West and South Gippsland, with a total fire ban also present for these regions, as well as East Gippsland.
Looking further ahead, temperatures should remain above average on Friday and Saturday across much of the state, although it will be cooler than Wednesday and Thursday. A cool change will spread northeast across the state later on Saturday, dropping temperatures below average and possibly bringing a few showers.
© Weatherzone 2013
18:16 EST Heavy rain has stranded about 40 people at William Creek in the South Australian outback due to flooded roads and low cloud has grounded aircraft.