24 November 2009

As bad as it gets, too

The dangerous fire weather conditions observed at the end of last week persisted throughout the weekend in NSW. Dangerous conditions peaked on Sunday, as a developing low pressure system over Victoria brought hot westerly winds to the state. The more than100 fires started by lightning on Friday flared, evacuating hospitals and threatening homes, among other things...

Firefighters have gained the upper hand on many of these blazes with the arrival of milder weather on Sunday night, but some of these fires remain out of control as of earlier today (23 Nov). That said, with more moderate weather expected for a few days, they will likely be brought under control soon.

These conditions extended into southern QLD as well, with a relatively widespread, but significant of grass fire activity noted, particularly on Sunday.

Peak temperatures on both days were above 40C in most of northern NSW and southern QLD. On Sunday, these extreme temperatures reached the Sydney region, which saw temperatures in excess of 42 C. Simultaneously, large portions of VIC and SA received a significant amount of rainfall, with over 70 mm in some locales (including Melbourne!). In northern SA (very arid...), rainfall amounts of 3 and 4 times the normal monthly totals were observed.

The image (click to enlarge) shows widespread fire activity and numerous smoke plumes extending from wildfires in Carnarvon National Park (west) and Expedition National Park (or various state forests nearby...) on 21 Nov (Sat.). It's scale is roughly 425 x 250 km, so these fires are burning over an extensive area. (See NAFI more more detail) Those with a long memory may recall that this same park saw significant fire activity in September. Parts that didn't burn then are now going. (There have been a lot of clouds about lately, poor conditions for fire images...). These fires are remote, little threat to immediate human values

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