Queenslanders have been warned that they are in for “relentless heat” that could harm people’s health just days after severe storms battered parts of the state.
A severe heatwave has begun to set in on Thursday, with the majority of the state to swelter through high temperatures into the weekend and beginning of next week.
Locations likely to be impacted include Bundaberg, Brisbane Metropolitan Area, Burketown, Charters Towers, Cloncurry, Gympie, Ipswich, Longreach, Mount Isa and Winton.
Battered by recent severe storms, southeast Queenslanders will not be spared the severe weather event.
It will peak over the latter part of the week before “gradually easing with a reduction in temperatures over the weekend,” the Bureau of Meteorology said.
In Brisbane, temperatures will reach a maximum of 36C on Thursday before dialling up to a maximum of 37C on Friday.
Temperatures will ease slightly to 31C with showers over the weekend in the state’s capital.
The heat will be the worst in Queensland’s west and centre, where temperatures will reach the low-to-mid 40s on Thursday and Friday before climbing even further over the weekend.
Those in Mount Isa, Long Reach, Winton and Cloncurry will swelter over the coming days, with temperatures to hover around 45C degrees for the next week and even reach 47C in some areas on Saturday.
Residents won’t be able to escape the heat at night, with minimum temperatures to still be in the high 20s in this part of the state.
The race is now on to restore power to the more than 44,000 Queenslanders who have been left in the dark as temperatures begin to climb.
There is an “unprecedented task” for Energex crews who have already restored power to 63 per cent of affected homes, but there some will have to wait days for power to be fully restored.
“The Energex crews are working in some very difficult conditions. The amount of vegetation down, road access, the heat that’s out there in some very challenging terrain,” Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said.
Mr de Brenni said the newly released Christmas Day storm event restoration plan aimed to have energy restored to 80 per cent of affected areas in South East Queensland by December 30 and power on to 90 per cent of homes by New Year’s Eve.
The remaining 10 per cent that will be left without power into the new year are primarily in the Mount Tambourine and Jimboomba areas.
“The advice is, is that those areas aren’t able to have power restored, they’ll need to have a power system rebuilt. The damage is so significant that we will have to rebuild the power network in those communities,” Mr de Brenni said.
“So in the meantime, those communities will need alternative generation solutions and we’re currently investigating and scoping options for those.”
There are serious concerns about the elderly and those with health conditions who are “especially vulnerable” to becoming ill when temperatures rise, according to Health Minister Shannon Fentiman.
“Queenslanders are very used to warm weather but often overlook the dangers associated with very high temperatures,” she said.
“Protect yourself and your loved ones by keeping cool, drinking plenty of water, staying out of the intense heat of the day, seeking airconditioning, reducing strenuous exercise and checking on loved ones and vulnerable neighbours.”
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the main message for residents over the coming days was to stay cool as a heatwave hits the region.
“If you know of your neighbour who are elderly or has mobility issues, please just go and say hello, check on them,” he said.
“See if they want a cup of tea, whatever it may be, because we know anyone who’s really susceptible to heat, we want to get to them before anything that serious can happen.”
For Gold Coasters seeking reprieve from the heat, the libraries and aquatic centres are open for free.
Mr Tate warned those to avoid swimming in creeks, including Tallebudgera Creek, due to potential sewage and backwash from stormwater drains.
“When you’re swimming today, don’t swim in the creek. Go to open water and swim between the flags,” he said.
Federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt warned people to also keep an eye on family and neighbours as the hot weather intensifies.
“It’s only just at the start of summer, we’re likely to see extreme weather over the next weeks and months,” he said.