Melbourne, Australia, set to roast on hottest day in decade

  • The roof to Rod Laver Arena is closed during the women’s semifinal between Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic and United States’ Danielle Collins due to extreme heat at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

  • Japan’s Naomi Osaka takes a drink as she walks to a practice session at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. Osaka will play Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in Saturday’s women’s final. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

MELBOURNE, Australia — Melbourne residents were warned that they could endure power outages on Friday as Australia’s second-largest city is forecast to experience its hottest day in a decade.

The Victoria state capital, with a population of 5 million, is set to reach 44 degrees Celsius (111 degrees Fahrenheit). That would be Melbourne’s hottest day since Feb. 7, 2009 — a day of catastrophic wildfires that than is remembered as Black Saturday.

That day, the temperature soared to 46.4 C (115.5 F). Wildfires killed 173 people and razed more than 2,000 homes in Victoria.

Scores of wildfires are raging in heatwave conditions across much of drought-parched southeast Australia, with authorities warning the fire risk is high.

Victoria Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said three power generators in the state had shut down, as infrastructure struggled to keep up with the power demand of air-conditioners.

“This means we can’t rule out brown-outs,” she told Radio 3AW.

She said it was “absolutely essential” for Victorians to cut back on power use where possible.

Black Saturday had been the hottest day ever recorded by a major Australian city until Adelaide reached a searing 46.6 C (115.9 F) on Thursday.

The South Australia state capital of 1.3 million people — 640 kilometers (400 miles) west of Melbourne — beat its previous 80-year-old record of 46.1 C (115 F) set on Jan. 12, 1939, and records tumbled in smaller towns across the state.

The South Australian town of Port Augusta, population 15,000, topped the state at 49.5 C (121.1 F).

The Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne invoked its extreme-heat policy on Thursday and closed the main stadium’s roof during a women’s semifinal match.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Rob Sharpe said he would not be surprised if this January becomes Australia’s hottest January on record with heatwave conditions likely to persist.

Last year was Australia’s third-warmest on record.

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