Perth swelters through 40C heat – as beach closes


By Lisa Quartermain and AAP

HUNDREDS of Perth beach-goers trying to beat the 40C heat today have been ordered out of the water.

Three sharks have been sighted off Trigg Island Beach, forcing authorities to close the popular surf point.

The first was seen 80m from shore around 11am just as hundreds of swimmers settled in for a day of heat relief. Some 300 swimmers left.

AAP has reported that two more sharks were then spotted by a rescue helicopter a short distance from the shore at 1.25pm. One of the sharks might be the same as the first one sighted, but authorities can not be sure.

Tens of thousands of swimmers have spent much of the Christmas long weekend at beaches across the metropolitan shoreline as the city temperature hovers around 40C.

On Christmas Day, the temperature peaked at 39.9C in Perth about 3pm and it reached 36.7C on Boxing Day.

But there’s relief in sight. After today’s 40C scorcher, the forecast is showing low to mid-30C days for the rest of the week.

The severe heat means a total fire ban has been declared for parts of Perth and its surrounds.

The Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) issued a warning today, saying any activity that could start a fire was banned. The fire ban applies to the Perth Hills, inland parts of Perth and surrounding areas, as well as areas of the Central Wheatbelt and Upper Great Southern regions.

Meanwhile, a flood warning has been issued for the Murchison River Catchment and Kalbarri, 592km north of Perth in WA’s Mid West region.

There is no immediate danger but residents are being urged to keep up to date in case the situation changes, says FESA.

The Bureau of Meteorology says the water level at Emu Springs gauging station, near the entrance of Murchison Gorge, had dropped slightly overnight from 6.14 metres to 6.07 metres at 6am today.

FESA says the river is flowing fast in some sections and people should take extra care near floodways.

The Department of Planning and Infrastructure has closed the Murchison River until further notice.