26 December 2007

A not-so-merry Xmas in Perth

Xmas brought high temperatures not seen in nearly one hundred years and bushfires to the Perth region. The weather in the Perth area has reached the highest three-day period over Christmas in over 90 years, with temperatures in the mid-30s to low-40s over that span. With the hot weather, of course come enhanced fire danger.

Fire crews called to over 120 individual incidents over Monday and Tuesday. Three main areas of fire were reported; all were believed to have been deliberately lit. Two close together in the northern suburbs were brought under control. The fire in the south, near the suburb of Orelia, was also brought under control, burning over 500 ha.

On Boxing Day, the fire near Orelia flared again and escaped containment lines, damaging houses in the suburb of Casuarina. Over 800 ha are now reported as burnt.

The satellite image is from the MODIS instrument onboard the Aqua satellite, as always taken from the NASA MODIS Rapid Response website. It was captured on Christmas Eve, and shows a dense smoke plume extending westward out over the Indian Ocean. The origin is the Orelia fire.

The aerial photo (from the ABC) shows a more traditional view of the smoke plume, also from Xmas Eve (presumably, as that is when the story ran...). The West has a nice gallery of imagery from this southern suburb fire (called the Anketell fire there...). The final image is from that gallery, and shows a ground level view of the massive flames that occur in a eucalyptus crown fire.

Weatherwise, slight relief is expected for the next few days over Perth, although fire dangers are expected to remain in the high to very high range in the metro area. Temperatures are forecast to near 40 degrees again early next week.

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