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Australia breaks heat records at 115

Jan. 18, 2013 at 9:49 AM

SYDNEY, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- As inland Australia battles bushfires spurred by strong winds, the southeast of the country is setting record temperatures reaching 115 degrees, officials said.

Sydney suffered its hottest day on record Friday, hitting 114 degrees, one degree hotter than its previous record in 1939 of 113, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The record-setting temperatures impacted towns along the coast, as the highest recorded temperature in the greater Sydney area was 115 in Penrith.

Weatherzone meteorologist Ben Domensino said Sydney normally tops out at approximately the mid-80s during the summer, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

"Last summer only saw the mercury reach a top of 92 degrees, and [the city] recorded just two days over 86. On average, the city typically reaches [more than 100] degrees once every three summers, although this year has seen an unusually hot start," he said.

"Reduced cloud cover over central and western Australia during the past few weeks has allowed a very hot air mass to build. This heat has periodically made its way towards the nation's coast due to the passage of low pressure troughs across the nation's south," he added.

Just hours after Sydney broke its record-high temperature, forecasters issued a severe weather warning, calling for heavy rain and damaging winds, the Herald reported.

Officials in Sydney said the high temperatures have damaged urban railway lines causing delays in public transportation, the BBC reported.

The recent heatwave throughout the country has prompted the Bureau of Meteorology to add a new color to its color-coded temperature chart so that it now reaches above 122 degrees, the BBC said.

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