Heatwave tipped to head east after searing parts of WA

Melissa Meehan and Andrew Drummond |

Temperatures could approach 50C in Western Australia before heatwave conditions spread east.
Temperatures could approach 50C in Western Australia before heatwave conditions spread east.

A heatwave expected to scorch parts of Western Australia over the weekend is set to spread east across the country. 

Parts of the state’s north are forecast to reach in the ballpark of 50C, with the Pilbara region expected to hit those intense temperatures either on the weekend or early next week.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s Dean Narramore said the heatwave will then move across the rest of the country to the east.

Warm conditions are tipped for northern South Australia, southern parts of the Northern Territory and Brisbane on Monday.

“The Pilbara is looking at severe to extreme heatwave conditions, with temperatures of 48C to 49C,” the senior meteorologist told AAP on Saturday.

“We could even see 50C around the Pilbara, but whether that hits one of our official observation stations, is not certain.”

Mr Narramore said those conditions mean large parts of the mainland are going to be subject to low-intensity heatwave conditions.

“It’s the result of very hot conditions and clear skies over WA which has allowed the heat to build as it moves east.”

The hottest Australian temperature ever recorded was 50.7C in the Pilbara town of Onslow on January 13 of 2023.

Onslow Beach Resort staff member Desy told AAP that conditions last year were “unbearable”, but the weekend had not yet been as extreme. 

Audra Smith, president of the Shire of Ashburton in which Onslow is located, says locals are used to extreme summer temperatures and weather.

Speaking to AAP from Tom Price on Saturday morning, the mercury had already tipped 44C.

“We do, generally go up to the mid-40s quite often but when it goes over that and closer to 50C it is a different heat,” she said.

“So we are mindful that it’s dangerous out in the heat and people mostly stay indoors and stay hydrated and try to look after one another, especially the elderly.”

Residents in those areas have been advised to seek a cool place to stay, such as a home, library, community centre or shopping centre.

If at home, the advice is to close the windows and draw the blinds early in the day to keep the heat out, and use fans or air conditioners if available.