Soaring heat turns outback into ghost town

The sweltering weather is set to continue with temperatures into the 40s expected across NSW.
The sweltering weather is set to continue with temperatures into the 40s expected across NSW.

As temperatures soar throughout NSW, spare a thought for the locals of White Cliffs, a tiny town with a population of just under 150 which recorded its second straight day of oppressive heat on Thursday.

The outback town in the northwest of NSW broke its own record on Wednesday with a temperature of 48.2C, dropping only marginally on Thursday with a high of 47C just after 3pm.

The heat has emptied the town's streets of all but a few, White Cliffs Hotel staff member Lauren Byrne told AAP.

"It's been a bit of a ghost town actually, people seem to be hiding away and trying to keep cool," Ms Byrne said.

"(The heat) hits you like a brick wall, it's just really hot and you sweat and it's suffocating, you breathe in and it's not normal air, it's just super, super hot."

Elsewhere in the far northwest, Tibooburra Airport recorded the top temperature in the state on Thursday with 48.2C just before 4.30pm.

Noona recorded 48.1C and Wilcannia Airport and Smithville both reached 47.8C, with Borrona Downs, Bourke, Cobar Airport and Delta all reaching temperatures of at least 47C.

Almost everywhere else in the state has reported temperatures at least in the 30s, including Sydney's west, with Penrith, Richmond, Campbelltown and Camden all reaching 35C by 1pm.

Conditions are so extreme that the bitumen on the Oxley Highway near Wauchope, just west of Port Macquarie, began melting about midday.

Walcha Council is using water from a nearby river to cool the pavement.

The peak of the week-long heatwave is yet to come, with another sweltering day expected around the state on Friday.

Broken Hill is forecast to reach four consecutive days of more than 45C - an event which has not happened since records began in 1957.

In a statement, Bureau of Meteorology spokeswoman Anita Pyne said the west of NSW expected to see temperatures in the mid to high 40s, including areas around the Ivanhoe and Menindie areas forecast to hit up to 48C.

32 maximum temperature records were broken around the state on Wednesday, and Ms Pyne said there was a possibility of more being broken on Thursday and Friday.

Transport for NSW is warning drivers to allow extra time on the roads as high temperatures often result in more breakdowns as vehicles overheat.

Meanwhile, the NSW Rural Fire Service is battling more than 60 fires across the state.

Total fire bans are in place across much of central NSW, stretching from the Victorian border up to Queensland.

Australian Associated Press