Victoria heats up ahead of scorcher

Temperatures are rising in Victoria, where near-record temperatures are expected to sweep the state today.

A top of 38degC is forecast in Melbourne, and a scorching high of 44degC is expected in Mildura - just one degree off the hottest November day ever recorded in the state.

The temperature in Melbourne was 20degC at 7am (local time) and the mercury is forecast to rise quickly with the high set to roll in between 3pm and 5pm.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Dean Stewart said while the forecast temperatures were a bit below record, temperatures could be higher than expected and match the records.

Victorians have been warned to take care in the heat.

Total fire bans are in place in the Mallee and Wimmera districts, with farmers in particular being warned of the extreme fire risk in the northwest of the state.

A hot and sticky night is also expected. Mr Stewart said a forecast change would not arrive until the early hours of Friday, so the temperature would remain in the 30s until then.

"It will only be a relatively weak change in that it's going to increase the humidity," he told AAP. "The temperature will fall to about 23degC in the morning following the change."

Ambulance Victoria is calling for people to take it easy in the heat, staying out of the sun in the afternoon, where possible, and taking rest breaks in the shade where being outside can't be avoided.

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