17 December 2009

Southeast Australia

Parts of southeastern Australia saw a a second consecutive day of dangerous fire weather conditions, with several destructive bushfires reported in the region. Most destructive was a fire in Gerogery (north of Albury) that destroyed four homes among other things. Other large fires were reported near Tooma in southern NSW, to the south of Canberra and in northwestern areas of Greater Sydney. In East Gippsland, a fire near Cann River started yesterday and expanded rapidly during the day.

This last fire is the most apparent in the image, a Terra satellite from 1120 LT, the morning of 17 Dec. The Cann River fire has a sharp dense smoke plume streaming off towards the southeast. The other fires noted above are not apparently detectable in the image. The locations of Canberra (C) and Albury (A) are noted. At the time of the later Aqua image, more likely to show the fires, the region is generally obscured by cloud...Careful examination shows a few plumes are visible, mixed in with the clouds.

Fire weather conditions across this region were quite dangerous today; It was hot and dry, with afternoon temperatures in the mid-upper 30s and very low relative humidity. Strong and gusty NW winds as well. Catastrophic fire dangers were forecast in southern NSW; conditions indicate that this was likely met. A strong cool change and associated rainband is moderating conditions this evening, which should allow firefighters to bring these fires under control.
A nice summary of the recent fire activity in rural NSW and its impact on farmers can be found at the link.

UPDATE: Nine homes destroyed in these bushfires  -- 4 in Gerogery; two in Tooma and three in Michelago (south of Canberra).

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