Cairns set for a scorcher with maximum of 35C
THE Far Northern summer has taken just a few days to reach its scorching best.
With Saturday marking the official start of summer, Cairns residents have been warned to prepare for the hottest day of the year on Wednesday as forecasters say the temperature could rise to 35C in the city.
Yesterday's high temperature of 32C caused a rush to waterways across the region, with lifesavers calling in extra reinforcements as the Esplanade Lagoon packed out. Freshwater swimming holes, the beaches and airconditioned shopping centres also proved popular.
The Tableland remains a tinderbox, with the fire danger still hovering in the high region after two weeks and temperatures at Mareeba are expected to rocket to a roasting 38C on Wednesday.
North Queensland lifeguard supervisor Jay March said things had been "full-on'' at the Cairns Lagoon yesterday, with hundreds of swimmers descending on the area.
"It depends on numbers (if extra staff are called in), most weekends there's normally an extra one or two on call who get called in so I'm sure they were this weekend,'' he said.
"There were a few around (on the beaches), they were pretty well patronised.''
Cairns weather bureau duty forecaster Daini Donu said the city was in for a steady climb in temperatures with today predicted to be 33C and tomorrow 34C before Wednesday's toasty top of 35C.
Residents of Weipa have already had it tough, the temperature reaching 37.2C yesterday and highs of 38 expected for the next three days.
"It's because of the warm north-northeast winds as well, coming down from the equator,'' Ms Donu said.
If Cairns reaches its expected high on Wednesday, it will be the hottest day in the city for almost a year, with a high of 34.9C in February.
A Wednesday maximum of 35C would be well above the December average of 31.4C.
Queensland Ambulance Service operations supervisor Theron Goebel said locals were well versed in the Far Northern summer climes, but it was still vital they prepared if these tops were reached.
"People should make sure they drink plenty of fluids the day before so they're not dehydrated and not playing catch-up,'' he said.
A fire just south of Mt Garnet was causing concern for Tableland firefighters, Queensland Fire and Rescue Far North regional manager Superintendent Ian Thomas said.
"That's going to burn for the next four or five days,'' he said.
"There's a rain event due on Thursday which could be some relief but not much.
"Normally storm season starts in November or early December and they've said it was late this year, so we've still got at least another week before we get any real rain.''
The high temperatures follow the driest November in nine years in Cairns with just 22mm falling in the city for the month.
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Keeping cool anyway we can: Sinead Conway and Ellie Thomas at the Cairns Lagoon. On Wednesday, the maximum temperature is predicted to hit 35C. Picture: TOM LEE