Australia heatwave: Nation endures hottest day on record

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Sydney:     Australia has experienced its hottest day on record with the national average temperature reaching a high of 40.9C (105.6F).
The Bureau of Meteorology (Bom) said “extensive” heat exceeded the previous record of 40.3C set on 7 January 2013.
Taking the average of maximum temperatures across the country is the most accurate measure of a heatwave.
The record comes as the nation battles a severe drought and bushfire crisis.
Forecasters had predicted the most intense heat would come later in the week, meaning the record could be broken again.
As hundreds of fires rage, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been criticised for his response to the natural disasters and his government’s climate policies.
Australia heated up this week as a mass of hot air swept east across the continent, with meteorologists forecasting “severe to extreme heatwave conditions”.
Several individual heat records for towns and cities have already been shattered. On Tuesday, places across the nation’s centre recorded temperatures above 45C.
At the start of the week, Perth, the capital of Western Australia, recorded three days in a row above 40C – a record for December.
The dominant climate driver behind the heat has been a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) – an event where sea surface temperatures are warmer in the western half of the ocean, cooler in the east.
The difference between the two temperatures is currently the strongest in 60 years. The warmer waters cause higher-than-average rains in the western Indian Ocean region, leading to flooding, and drier conditions across South East Asia and Australia.