Half of Victoria is so hot and dry, fire bans have been issued, while the rest of the state is bracing for thunderstorms.

Fire weather warnings have been issued for the Mallee, Wimmera and South West districts, where temperatures are expected to hit 40C on Wednesday.

“It looks like quite a hot and dry day over central and western parts of the state,” Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Michael Efron said.

“However as we head into the late afternoon we’ll see that showers and thunderstorm activity developing across a line just to the west of Melbourne up towards the NSW border then travelling towards the southeast.”

Thunderstorms aren’t expected to hit metropolitan Melbourne – where the maximum is forecast to reach 37C – until about 3pm, but could reach Gippsland earlier.

Gippsland residents are warned severe thunderstorms will bring damaging winds, heavy rain, possible flooding and hail for several hours.

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Rain has already started in parts, with Glencairn recording 38mm in an hour on Wednesday morning, according to Mr Efron.

The rain isn’t expected to reach the Mallee, Wimmera and South West, but the state will experience cooler weather on Thursday, before temperatures climb again over the weekend.

AAP

Gold 104.3 Melbourne