Darwin is sweating through its hottest start to September in 31 years, with the city averaging a maximum of 34.2 degrees across its first 11 days.
The September heat has been unusual, with only two warmer starts in the city's 70 years of records. The last time the Northern Territory capital endured such a start was in 1981, when the first 11 days averaged 34.4 degrees.
September is typically a transitional month, becoming progressively warmer as it goes. However, the heat this year has struck earlier than usual with the city already reaching 36 degrees. This has been the result of an extended run of sunny skies and a lack of strong cold fronts, allowing the build-up of heat across the Top End. This is a sign that the 'build-up season' is developing early this year.
This extended run of warmth, sunny days and moderate to fresh southeasterly winds have also led to very high fire danger.
Looking further ahead, the next few days are looking similarly warm with maximums forecast to reach around 34-35 degrees, keeping the fire danger very high.
© Weatherzone 2012
16:53 EST The first shipment of sugar to leave the Port of Bundaberg since floods devastated south-east Queensland in January is setting sail this afternoon.