17 November 2009

Central NT

As suggested yesterday, there are huge fires currently going in the central portions of the NT, including the Barkly Tablelands. Many of these fires have been burning for several weeks, and have now affected large areas. Fortunately, the fires are in remote areas and unlikely to have a large human impact.

The image is the True Colour image from the Terra overpass on 17 November at 0145 UTC. Numerous fires are readily visible on the image. The large fire scar on the right, with active hotspots, represents the fires in the Barkly Tablelands noted over 10 days ago. Comparing the older image with this one shows how much the fire has grown. Estimate of the affected area over the whole period are easily in excess of 2 million ha. TO get some sense of scale, the distance from Eliottt (E) and Daly Waters (DW) is roughly 150 km. The linear extend of the fire in the north-south direction exceeds that. Katherine (K) is noted at the top of the image.

Looking at NAFI, some of the detected hotspots are likely efforts by firefighters to control the extent of the blaze. Many line up right along highways, likely attempts to establish firebreaks.

Further west, several active fires are noted in the northern Tanami Desert and close to the Victoria River district. region. These fires are quite intense, and much of this region has burnt in just the last two or three days according to the history on NAFI.

Weather conditions are quite hot, even for the place and time of year. Temperatures are in the low-40s, 5 degrees or so above normal. Afternoon relative humidities are around 20% (dewpoints of 10-15 degrees), but the winds are from the NW and not too strong, although some quite gusty obs are noted at some of the stations.

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