THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has declared a state of emergency for the next seven days, with Sydney shrouded in smoke again, bushfires burning out of control and temperatures predicted to soar even more.
Authorities have warned the Harbour City’s entire perimeter is threatened by blazes, while in Penrith, the mercury is expected to reach 44 degrees Celsius today.
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said there were 2,000 firefighters battling blazes around the state today, and a further 500 on standby, adding that while today was going to be a very bad day, a dangerous day in New South Wales, the forecast is that Saturday will be even worse.
A gusty change due in the afternoon is expected to create difficult conditions for firefighters, particularly around the mega-blaze on the outskirts of Sydney which has already burnt around than 420,000 hectares.
The Premier issued a warning to people preparing for summer travel plans.
“Please do your research before you embark anywhere across the state,” she said.
“Please be clear what your plans are. Please make sure you are prepared to change your plans should circumstances change.
“The biggest concern over the next few days as the unpredictability, with extreme wind conditions, extremely hot temperatures.”
The State of Emergency following prolonged heatwave conditions across the country with Tuesday declared as Australia’s hottest day on record, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).
The average maximum temperature across the country was 40.9 degrees Celsius, breaking the mark of 40.3C set in January 2013, but it’s a record unlikely to last for long.
Temperatures got up to well over 45C for much of the interior — the location record (50.7C at Oodnadatta) is still safe — but the wide spread of exceptional heat meant the national average record was broken.
Oodnadatta reached a maximum of 44.7C on Wednesday but is forecast to get to 48C on Thursday and 47C on Friday, before cooling slightly to 44C on Saturday.
Oak Valley, further to the west in outback South Australia, is predicted to reach 49C on Thursday.
Closer to the coast, the heat is far from over for Adelaide — daily maximums for West Terrace are forecast to reach 44C on Thursday and 44C on Friday, when the fire danger is also expected to peak.
Further east, Canberra has been experiencing severe heatwave conditions that are forecast to continue into the weekend, with the hottest day expected to be Saturday (42C).
Prince William and his wife, Kate, have sent out their annual Christmas card, which has since been shared online.
Princess Charlotte, four, is seen standing in a vintage motorbike sidecar with Prince George, six, standing right behind her.
Kate Middleton is photographed by her husband’s side.
The Cambridges Christmas card including Kate, William, Prince Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Picture: TwitterSource:Twitter
The card reads, “Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and New Year” and is signed off, Catherine.
Prince William is known to be a huge fan of vintage motorbikes so the setting for the card is likely to have been his idea.
The Cambridges are known for their adorable group family Christmas cards, with last year’s card featuring them perched in a tree with Prince George balancing on one leg and holding on to his father.
This year’s card is the first from the royal family to be shared with the public.
A defiant US President Donald Trump has launched one of his most bitter twitter onslaughts against the Democrats as he stared down the impending impeachment vote Wednesday (US time).
The White House insisted Trump would be busy working rather than focused on the proceedings in the House, but Trump spent his Wednesday morning tweeting, retweeting and expressing disbelief.
“Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG!,” Trump wrote in one of 45 tweets posted before noon. He asked his followers to “Say a PRAYER!”
As members of the House debated the articles of impeachment, Trump’s urgency appeared to escalate as he switched to all capital letters: “SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!” he wrote.
For Trump, it was an acknowledgement of the inevitable: That he will become just the third president in US history to be impeached by the House of Representatives.
He and White House officials have tried to brush off the significance – noting there is little chance he will be convicted by the Republican-controlled Senate and removed from office – but allies nonetheless acknowledge that Trump is indeed concerned about the stain the episode will leave on his legacy.
Trump is facing two articles of impeachment. The first charges him with abuse of power by pressuring the president of Ukraine to investigate Trump’s Democratic rivals while crucial US security aid was being withheld.
The second charges him with obstruction of congress for stonewalling investigative efforts.
Trump had little on his public schedule on Wednesday but he was planning his own counter-programming in the evening, holding what is expected to be a highly charged rally in the battleground state of Michigan.
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