The scorching heatwave gripping much of Australia's east coast is being felt in Queensland's south-east today, with roasting temperatures of up to 41 degrees Celsius.
While Americans suffer the blight of an extreme winter, with more than one million people in the dark over Christmas and shoveling snow from blizzards, Australians are ringing in 2014 with record high temperatures and fortunately, lots of ice cold beer, cool water and awesome boating facilities.
At 9am on Queensland's Gold Coast, the mercury had already hit 35.1C, with the apparent temperature hovering at 37.4C, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, which released a report that states 2013 was the hottest year on record in Australia.
Queensland's west has been sweltering through record-breaking heat in recent days, along with parts of Central Australia and north-western New South Wales.
The mass of hot air causing the extreme weather again led to searing temperatures in central and western Queensland on Friday.
St George, 390km due west of Brisbane, topped the temperature list with 47.2C. Brisbane's top for Friday was 34.3C, but the mercury is predicted to reach 41C today as northerly winds push the heatwave south.
Firefighters are trying to contain a large bushfire on Stradbroke Island, which is causing concern for the residents and holidaymakers alike, although emergency services say there are no plans for evacuations at this stage.
On the Gold Coast, occupancy is at peak levels, with hotels and apartments booked solid as Queenslanders flock to the coast and jostle with international and southern tourists for space, trying to beat the heat in the air-conditioning and cool pools, which from above look like azure handkerchiefs dotted with hundreds-and-thousands.
Public pools are faring no better - full by 11am and turning people away. From Coolangatta to Main Beach, the beaches are packed from early light, and the canals, dams, Broadwater and open sea are dotted with watercraft all making the most of the summer weather.
But paramedics are warning people to heed warning signs and keep out of the midday sun, drink plenty of water and slip, slop, slap!
Last summer, paramedics responded to more than 350 cases of heat-related illness across the state.
Thankfully, BOM is predicting a cool change through tomorrow afternoon, dropping temperatures by 10 degrees.
by Jeni Bone
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2:29 AM Sat 4 Jan 2014GMT
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