While folks in the U.S. Midwest and Northeast are seeing the first major snowstorm of the winter, those who dwell Down Under are broiling.
Parts of Australia have suffered under an intense heat wave over the holidays, and before the weather pattern breaks, temperatures today were expected to reach nearly 50 degrees Celsius (more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit), The Guardian reports. Temperatures in many inland towns in particular have reached above 40 C (100 F) for several days. The culprit is a high-pressure system sitting over the country.
The heat wave has prompted fire officials in the state of South Australia to rate fire conditions as "catastrophic," with total fire bans in place for the northern parts of the state. The heat wave has meant the summer has started out much like it did last year, hot and very dry. Australia's Bureau of Meteorology is expected to announce on Friday (Jan. 3) that 2013 was the hottest year on record for the country.