WEATHER: Fire danger as states sizzle

Firefighters in NSW are bracing for 'catastrophic' bushfire conditions as a heatwave that fuelled devastating fires in Tasmania bears down on eastern Australia.

See below for a state-by-state breakdown of the predicted weather and bushfire conditions in your state, as well as vital safety information.

NSW

Where to find information

Bureau of Meteorology - Forecasts and temperatures

NSW is facing 'catastrophic' fire conditions that authorities fear will put thousands of lives and homes at risk.

Premier Barry O'Farrell today made an emphatic appeal to all NSW residents to be fully prepared for the worst as temperatures are set to soar on Tuesday.

"(Tuesday) is not just going to be in the 40s, it will perhaps be the worst fire danger the state has ever faced," he said.

"Do what emergency services tell you, particular the rural fire service. Act early.

"Don't just think, '(Today) is another bush fire danger day, (today) is another summer's day'. (Today) is going to be the worst fire danger day in parts of this state we've ever experienced in history."

All state forests will be closed from 12.01am to 11.59pm on Tuesday, with no hunting, camping, motorbike riding or any other recreational use permitted forests during the closure. Anyone found within the forests during the closure could face a fine of up to $2200.

NSW RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said any bushfire would be aggressive.

"You will see ember showers 10 or 20 kilometres ahead of the advancing fire front," he said.

The mercury will skyrocket in many parts of the state today as the heatwave pushes super-hot air from inland Australia into NSW.

In the state's far west, the temperature in some towns is predicted to hit 45 degrees, while in Sydney the mercury is forecast to climb to 43 degrees - making it the third highest temperature on record.

The mercury will hit 43 in Wollongong, 42 in Dubbo, 41 in Wagga Wagga and Albury, 40 in Newcastle and 38 in Goulburn and Tamworth.

The  Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Ranges regions have been given a Catastrophic Fire Danger Rating, the worst possible rating.

The Riverina, Lower Central West Plains, Central Ranges, Monaro Alpine, ACT and Greater Sydney regions are rated extreme, while the rest of the state is rated severe or very high. 

A total fire ban is in place for the entire state.

Westerly winds will add to the danger, with gusts of between 60-80 kilometres per hour expected in many areas.

Several thousand firefighters, supported by aircraft, will be on standby today.

Map: Forecast temperatures for the next week

VICTORIA

Where to find information

Bureau of Meteorology - Forecasts and temperatures

Southern Victoria will receive a much-needed respite from soaring temperatures today, however the same can’t be said for towns and cities to the north.

While the regional cities of Warrnambool and Ballarat will enjoy maximum temperatures below 30 degrees, the mercury will hit 35 in Bendigo, 38 in Shepparton, 39 in Echuca and 40 in Wangaratta.

Mildura, which has baked in a mid-40s heatwave since Thursday, is expected to experience fleeting respite from the heat on Wednesday, with 29 degrees, but it will be back to 42 on Friday.

The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted a late shower, with a top of 29 for Melbourne.

It will warm up again - a top of 33 is predicted for Friday - but more showers are possible late on Friday and into Saturday morning, with tops at the weekend of 25 and 26.

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley has warned that the coming week is still one of danger for fires.

"Tuesday is the day that has the northerly strong winds and again Friday. They are the two critical days, but we could still have fires on other days that could still do damage," he said.

"It is a week that people need to stay vigilant about fires in Victoria."

Fire conditions for Tuesday will be severe in the north of the state.

Map: Forecast temperatures for the next week

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Where to find information

South Australian Country Fire Service

Temperatures soared across South Australia yesterday but will decrease slightly roday.

The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted temperatures of up to 31 degrees in Adelaide, 30 in Ceduna, 31 in Murray Bridge and 46 in Coober Pedy.

QUEENSLAND AND NORTHERN TERRITORY

Where to find information

Bureau of Meteorology - Forecasts and temperatures

It is no stranger to baking heat but northern Australia will largely avoid the searing temperatures baking the rest of the country.

Temperatures on Tuesday will be very hot in the state’s west but more bearable elsewhere. The mercury will peak in the low 30’s in Brisbane on Tuesday, while it will hit 39 in Mt Isa, 36 in Goondiwindi and 30 on the Gold Coast.

In the Northern Territory, temperatures will reach 40 in Tennant Creek, 38 in Katherine, 43 in Alice Springs and just 3 in Darwin.

The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service has urged Queensland residents to remain vigilant with a heightened fire danger expected.

TASMANIA

Where to find information

Bureau of Meteorology - Forecasts and temperatures

Most of the nearly 100 people feared missing in bushfires in Tasmania have been accounted for and no deaths have been recorded so far, police say.

Police have searched 245 properties in Dunalley, south of Hobart, and to the north of the town, including 90 badly damaged or destroyed buildings. No bodies were found, despite many people being reported missing.

About 65 police and other searchers will continue the work today south of Dunalley to the more densely forested Murdunna and Sommers Bay area. 

About 14 buildings have been destroyed at Sommers Bay.

There are about 110 residences in the Marion Bay-Copping area that are undamaged, and 45 residences at Dunalley are undamaged.

Police urge people from the fire areas  to register their details with the National Registration and Inquiry Service on 1800 727 077 or via www.redcross.org.au. This is important to enable police to cross-reference details of people and discount them as a potential concern for welfare where appropriate. 

Tasmania Police Inspector John Arnold said most of the names on the list had been cross-checked and located. But it was still possible bodies would be found, he said.

Police will today continue their property-to-property searches in the worst hit towns of Dunalley, Boomer Bay and Marion Bay as they fear lives may have been lost.

The grim task comes as fire authorities warn bushfires that have ravaged the south-east of the state could flare up again as more warm weather hits.

Above average temperatures are expected with Hobart forecast to reach 29 degrees Celsius and Launceston 30 degrees Celsius today.

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