WEATHER: Get ready for the weekend from hell

AUSTRALIA is set for an out-there weekend of extreme weather with tropical cyclones, driving rain, baking heat and fire fears.

An already scorching weekend is only going to get hotter with Sydney now expected to scrape 40C in an unexpected shot of searing summer weather deep in autumn.

Further south in Victoria, the mercury may not get that high but the danger is more real with warnings of perfect bushfire conditions.

In the Top End, it's rain - not fire - residents need to watch out for with Cyclone Marcus expected to form off the Northern Territory coast by Friday night.

Temperature maps from the Bureau of Meteorology sum it up best, with a straight deep red line of baking temperatures mainlining hot air from northern central Australia right across NSW and into Sydney.

A straight line of heat heads from the Northern Territory to Sydney.
A straight line of heat heads from the Northern Territory to Sydney.

Originally forecast to reach 34C on Sunday, 38C is the new maximum. Sydney's CBD will see 26C on Friday, then 31C on Saturday before Sunday's scorcher. The long-term March average is below 25C.

Penrith, in the city's west, should do one better and get to 39C, which will make it the hottest March day for 14 years.

Head into northern regional NSW and a 40C day is even more certain with Burke expected to top out at 41C.

 

Speaking to news.com.au on Thursday, Sky News meteorologist Tom Saunders said Sydneysiders shouldn't be fooled by relatively cool weather on Friday.

"Those northerly winds will return over the weekend bringing hot air down from the interior," he said. "In Penrith, you'd have to go back more than a decade to get a hotter March, when in 2004 it was 39.5C."

In Melbourne, while Friday will be fairly mild with a maximum of 25C, the temperatures are on the way up, reaching 32C on Saturday.

A total fire ban is now in place for much of the state. No fires can be lit in Melbourne and Geelong or the Mallee, Wimmera, South West, Northern Country or North Central districts.

Emergency Management Victoria said the hot air, wind and dry parched land were the prefect recipe for bushfires.

 

Emergency Management commissioner Craig Lapsley said although summer was over, the fire risk was not.

"We have had hot days and windy days but not many when the two have combined," he said on Thursday.

"Grasslands and bushland across the state are dry. We are expecting strong winds of around 40-50km/h and squally winds of potentially up to 100km/h on Saturday and Sunday," he said.

"This weekend will test us and it will test Victorians. The community need to dust off their plans - know where you can get information and what you will do if a fire is near you."

Tropical Cyclone Marcus is forming off theTop End, with storm tides, damaging waves and flooding expected to hit between Cape Hotham and Maningrida, including the Tiwi Islands, by Friday night, reported AAP.

Cyclone Marcus is forming off the northern coast of Australia.
Cyclone Marcus is forming off the northern coast of Australia.

Marcus will be packing heavy rain and sustained winds near the centre with wind gusts to 110km/h, with conditions expected to continue into Saturday morning before Marcus moves into the Timor Sea later in the day, the Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement.

Residents have been warned to take precautions, while the Tiwi Island Football League has cancelled the grand final and the Palmerston council election may be another casualty.

About the only people out of the firing line are those in southeast Queensland. Which is perhaps just as well, following their flirtation with Cyclone Linda earlier this week.


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