Scorching few days predicted for New England, North West

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THE region will swelter through a rare week of temperatures on or above 100 degrees in the old Fahrenheit money (38 degrees Celsius), with little relief in sight.

Predicted temperatures for Tamworth for the week ahead range from maximums of 38 degrees to 41 degrees, with the lowest predicted minimum being 16 offering little relief overnight.

There could be some relief on Sunday, with a maximum of 35 degrees predicted for Tamworth and possibly a shower or two.

If you think Tamworth is scorching, spare a thought for those to the north-west in Narrabri and Moree.

These towns are expecting maximums of between 37 and a sweltering 43 degrees, forecast for Sunday, and the lowest overnight minimum predicted is 19 degrees.

Why do we have to suffer this heat, you ask? There are a few reasons.

Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Tim Constable said there was a slow-moving high-pressure system in the Tasman Sea and Great Australian Bight that was extending a ridge to the south and south-east corner of Australia.

This has prevented cooler air from the south moving north and means there is a pool of warm air in central Australia that hasn't been cooled.

"It means we have quite a prolonged period of warm weather for NSW," Mr Constable said.

"We are forecasting temperatures of up to 41 degrees 'til Saturday in the Tamworth region.

"There will be high 30s to low 40s in the region, but you may see showers later in the week, on Friday or Saturday, but still warm temperatures."

The Weather Channel’s Tom Saunders said the severe heatwave hitting parts of Australia was “partly due to a lack of cloud cover, the result of a lagging monsoon season”.

Normally by this time northern Australia would have had increased cloud cover, brought on by a monsoon trough, which travels south from Indonesia.

This year, though, the trough has remained over Indonesia, meaning decreased cloud cover for Australia and higher daytime temperatures.

Mr Saunders said the trough arrived on December 19, 2011, in the last wet season.

“Uncertainty surrounding the eventual onset date this season is high, but one of the numerous computer models predicts migration south to Australia during the middle of next week, but at a minimum it will be the latest monsoon onset since the summer of 2006-07, when the trough arrived about January 8,” he said.

This may mean inland Australia could expect higher-than-average temperatures for many more weeks yet.

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