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Australia preparing for bushfires amid severe heatwaves

Firemen prepare as a bushfire approaches homes on the outskirts of the town of Bargo on Dec. 21. 2019. Photo:Getty


Australia preparing for bushfires amid severe heatwaves


By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | NOVEMBER 28th 2020


Much of Australia is experiencing a heatwave of harsh severity unmatched by any other place in the world at the moment. The heatwave is expected to last over the weekend, sweltering around the mid 40C degrees, and sparking fears of bushfires.

The fires that took place in Australia from October of 2019 to around May of 2020 left a nasty sense of trauma over the country. For such intense and dangerous fire to last over half a year is unusual even for the heat-scorched Australia, but it isn’t entirely unexpected as the clocks turn and the time of the annual fire season approaches yet again.

South Australia has been hit with a particularly bad wave of heat over Friday and Saturday, with temperatures reaching up as high as 46C degrees in such places as Port Augusta and Coober Pedy. As such, many areas in South Australia as well as New South Wales and Victoria have implemented a series of total fire bans. At the moment these bans are being harshly enforced, as fears over yet another devastating bushfire are at an all-time high.

“Whilst people in dug-outs will be fine today, we really are concerned about the people that live above ground in housing, in houses above ground and also people that are visiting from other parts of the state, particularly from up north,” said Dean Miller, council chief executive of the Coober Pedy district. “We’ll be looking out for people to make sure they stay hydrated and have access to water and shade.”

Two thirds of the residents in Coober Pedy live in underground dugouts, and are therefore in better positions for dealing with the intense wave of heat. Jade Golding, manager at the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), said that the situation wasn’t much better in New South Wales where records were set across November for ‘warmest overnight minimums’ with daytime seeing far greater scorching.

“It’ll be a really long, uncomfortable night (on Saturday) and then a really long hot day and then a really windy southerly change,” Golding said. “The body doesn’t really get much respite, it’s quite hard.”

The elevated risks of bushfires are on a level never before seen in New South Wales, as the marks of a changing climate seem to be becoming more and more perceivable. It’s been dubbed “the most significant heat wave of the season yet” by the BOM.

“On Saturday, severe to extreme fire dangers will continue in South Australia and extend into Northern Victoria and parts of New South Wales,” BOM Meteorologist Jonathan How stated on Friday. “On Sunday, very high to severe fire dangers are forecast for Eastern New South Wales and Southeast Queensland, these forecasts are subject to change.”

The bushfire that ravaged the country last year was among the most destructive in history, having caused so much death and catastrophe that it’d been dubbed Australia’s “black Summer” by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. It resulted in the deaths of over 3 billion animals, taken the lives of at least 26 people, and burned away nearly 5.5 million hectares of forests and land.

“This is the first time since the devastating season last year we've seen widespread elevated fire danger,” said New South Wales Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Peter McKechnie on Friday, urging Australian people to learn the appropriate fire procedures in case of direct danger. “Know what to do if a fire threatens you, know where you'll go.”

Fire bans were also announced for the Mallee, Wimmera and Northern country regions by the Country Fire Authority (CFA). The threat of fire seems imminent, given the current amount of dry vegetation in the country combined with the forecast weekend thunderstorm that could act as a spark for some severe blazes.

“The Mallee district will reach an extreme fire danger rating for the first time this season due to the forecasted gusty winds and increased grassland curing in the area,” said the CFA acting chief officer, Alen Slijepcevic. “Northern country and Wimmera will also experience elevated dangerous fire conditions, with a severe fire danger rating. As a result, we have declared a total fire ban across all three weather districts.”


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2020