Australia has sweltered through its hottest day on record, but that milestone could fall again before the week is out.
A stifling hot air mass and blistering heatwave conditions scorched central Australia as temperatures soared beyond 45C on Tuesday.
The air mass is so extensive, the average national temperature climbed to 40.9C on Tuesday, eclipsing the record of 40.3C set in January 2013.
The heatwave will only continue to intensify, with southern and central Australia experiencing temperatures up to 16C above average by Friday.
The Queensland outback town of Birdsville was the hottest place in the country on Wednesday, reaching a peak of 47.7C, not far ahead of Wudinna airport in South Australia which reached 47.3C.
Most of Queensland's interior is expected to reach at least 40C by the weekend, with temperatures up to 12C above average in some towns.
Western Australia's peak on Wednesday reached 46.9C in Mandora, south of Broome and the Northern Territory's hottest was Kintore, around 500km west of Alice Springs, at 46.4C.
Western NSW temperatures surged past 40C, with the mercury tipped to climb even higher across the state in coming days.
Melbourne reached 39.7C just before 3pm on Wednesday, while the state's northwest is expecting to crack the mid-40s.
Canberra was a relatively mild 36.7C and temperatures were a cooler 31C in Tasmania.
The heatwave has added to dangerous fire conditions with warnings current for most of the country and more than 170 fires burning in NSW and Queensland.
Australia's far southern coast is expected to see slightly cooler conditions on Thursday, but dangerous heat conditions will continue to trouble firefighters.
Strengthening winds will create very high to extreme fire dangers in northeast Victoria, NSW and the ACT with smoke becoming a significant issue.
"This combined with severe to extreme heatwave conditions to have a large impact on people's health," meteorologist Diana Eadie said.
The National Asthma Council has also warned the extreme heat could affect people's breathing and trigger symptoms.
The cold front will move over WA on Thursday and push further east late on Friday after another hot day in Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart.
Australian Associated Press