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Record-breaking heatwave eases as two months’ worth of rain soaks parts of South Australia

<span>Photograph: James D Morgan/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: James D Morgan/Getty Images

Parts of South Australia have received more than two months of rainfall in under 24 hours, as a record-breaking heatwave begins to ease across most of New South Wales.

SA’s state emergency service has warned of potential localised flooding with the heaviest rainfall expected on the Eyre Peninsula, the west coast, and the north-west pastoral districts.

“By the end of the day, it’s anticipated that some of these places will have received more than 100mm or rainfall and while that’s not a lot for some parts of Australia, it’s typically dry in South Australia,” Angus Hines from the Bureau of Meteorology said.

“A lot of places expected to receive between 50 and 100mm of rain this weekend only average about 20mm over the course of a typical December, so that’s double or triple what they normally get.”

Victoria, Tasmania, the far south of NSW and parts of the Northern Territory can also expect high rainfall totals across the weekend as a long band of rain stretches from eastern Victoria across southern SA.

In NSW, temperatures have fallen from the low to mid 40Cs that were recorded across central western and coastal parts on Saturday afternoon. That’s due to a southerly buster that swept up the coast, bringing thunderstorms and dropping temperatures by up to 10C.

The strong winds caused damage to several homes on the Central Coast, with roofs ripped off during a short but strong storm burst.

On Sunday morning, the NSW RFS said there were 86 fires burning across the state with 26 uncontained. The service warned inland areas would experience “widespread high fire danger” despite milder conditions in coastal areas.

Hines said the peak fire danger had now passed in NSW, although total fire bans remain in place for the northern riverina and the northern slopes.

“Sydney Airport reached 43.5 degrees on Saturday, which is looking like a record for December. The records there go back 85 years, so it’s a significant record too,” Hines said.

“Since then, we’ve seen some cooler cloudy weather across the coast with a little spot of rainfall as well. We’ve seen the fire ratings drop or become less severe along the coast

“However, we still have extensive high fire danger ratings through interior parts of New South Wales with another hot dry day anticipated for Sunday. And there are two districts that have maintained a total fire bans for Sunday.”

On Saturday afternoon, tens of thousands of people sweated it out at several concerts at Homebush in Sydney’s west, with the mercury climbing to 43C before a southerly change swept through after 6pm.

Extra staff were on hand to help those overwhelmed by the heat at separate concerts by the Foo Fighters and 50 Cent, and the hard techno music festival Epik, where four people were taken to hospital on Saturday.

The NSW health minister, Ryan Park, said the attendees remain in a critical but stable condition while noting health services were stretched.

“We saw around an 80% increase in the number of NSW ambulance call outs and around 500 additional call outs to paramedics,” he told reporters in Wollongong on Sunday.

– with AAP