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Sydney cools after hottest December night

AAP logoAAP 13/12/2016

Sydneysiders are set for a better sleep after the city sweltered through its warmest December night in almost 160 years.

A cool change was expected to sweep through the city on Wednesday evening after two scorching days in which in mercury reached the high 30s.

Temperatures were set to drop to 22C on Wednesday night and continue into Thursday with a low of 19C, the weather bureau says.

Sydney struggled through the uncomfortably warm night on Tuesday, with temperatures in the city only dipping down to 27.1C, the highest minimum on record in 158 years since Christmas Day 1858, when they dropped to 26.3C.

The temperature also smashed all but one previous record on Tuesday, making it the second-warmest Sydney evening in recorded history.

Water usage in greater Sydney also hit a record high on Tuesday, at 2171 megalitres, Sydney Water said.

"This is the equivalent of 868 Olympic sized swimming pools or 8.6 billion standard glasses of water," spokesman Peter Hadfield said.

Firefighters were busy dealing with more than 40 bushfires on Wednesday, despite total fire bans covering greater Sydney and other parts of the state.

The biggest concern for crews is major blaze in Abermain in the Hunter Region, which investigators believe was deliberately lit.

"It's going to be a long day ahead, there's a lot of bad weather to go today before we can say things are safe, and the fire's certainly not contained," RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told the Seven Network on Wednesday.

"The winds are starting to pick up ... it is a race against time, because if that fire isn't contained by the time the southerly cool change comes through later on this afternoon, the fire could sweep back northwards, putting homes in Abermain at risk."

Total fire bans are still in place throughout greater Sydney, the Illawarra/Shoalhaven, lower and upper Central West regions, while there are severe fire danger warnings in Sydney and the Illawarra.

On Tuesday the hot weather left Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Melbourne sweltering together for the first time in more than half a century.

Temperatures peaked above 33C in all four capital cities for the first time since 1965, according to the weather bureau.

A cool change is also expected in Melbourne, Canberra and Adelaide later on Wednesday.

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