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World Rains are finally arriving in fire-ravaged Australia, but they bring new risks

20:50  14 january  2020
20:50  14 january  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Morrison defends response as weather brings respite in fires

  Morrison defends response as weather brings respite in fires  Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended his leadership and his government's record on climate change Sunday as milder temperatures brought hope of a respite from wildfires that have ravaged three states, claiming 24 lives and destroying almost 2,000 homes .Morrison has faced widespread criticism for taking a family vacation in Hawaii at the start of the wildfire crisis, his sometimes distracted approach as it has escalated and his slowness in deploying resources.

Rain has fallen in fire - ravaged parts of Australia and temperatures have dropped - but officials have warned that blazes will "take off" again. They also said huge fires in Victoria and NSW could meet to create a larger "mega blaze". "There is no room for complacency," NSW state Premier Gladys

Australia 's PM Scott Morrison had to cut short a visit to a town ravaged by fire after angry locals heckled him over the government's response. The country regularly sees fires but they are usually centred on bushland while the current blazes are striking forests, which burn hotter and higher so are

A major weather pattern shift is coming to some of the bush fire zones of Australia, where a relentless, multiyear drought and record-shattering heat turned the landscape into a tinderbox this spring and summer.

a close up of a map: A 5-day total rainfall projection from the European model, showing the heavy rains taking aim at southeastern Australia. (StormVistaWxModels) A 5-day total rainfall projection from the European model, showing the heavy rains taking aim at southeastern Australia. (StormVistaWxModels)

The rains are not expected to extinguish all the flames, nor will they end the drought, but they are sure to bring relief for the thousands of firefighters seeking to contain the blazes, which still number more than 100 in New South Wales alone.

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Australia fires: Blood-red skies over NSW after 'one of worst days ever'

  Australia fires: Blood-red skies over NSW after 'one of worst days ever' Skies turned blood red above parts of southeast Australia on Sunday as residents sought refuge from deadly bushfires, and a senior firefighter described the previous 24 hours as "one of our worst days ever."Commissioner of Emergency Services in Victoria, Andrew Crisp, speaks to the media on Jan. 3, in Melbourne.

But much of Australia is also suffering from a record drought and scientists say climate change has worsened the conditions, making it easier for fires to grow. Holidaymakers should be swimming and hiking today, but they 're checking into evacuation centres or planning escape routes.

Dont Forget To Subscribe 👌 Rain has fallen in fire - ravaged parts of Australia and temperatures have dropped - but officials have warned that blazes will

The rainfall, though, will also unleash new hazards, since the newly burned regions will be prone to flooding and landslides that could further damage forest ecosystems. This could be worsened by the slow-moving nature of some of the heaviest showers and thunderstorms, according to Sarah Scully, a meteorologist at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

While rainfall will be variable given the episodic nature of the showers and thunderstorms, fueled by a frontal zone setting up across eastern Australia, drawing in moist, humid air from the ocean to the southeast, the BOM is predicting between 1.2 to 3 inches during the next several days across a large area, stretching from Victoria northward into New South Wales and Queensland.

Photos: Animals at risk in Australian bushfires

  Photos: Animals at risk in Australian bushfires As many as half a billion animals, including pets and livestock, may have been killed in Australia's wildfires, according to experts, with potentially hundreds of thousands of injured and displaced native wildlife.

Media captionCan Australia 's PM Scott Morrison recover from the fires ? Australia 's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has expressed regret over his handling of the bushfire crisis ravaging the country. In the town of Cobargo in New South Wales, one woman demanded more resources for the fire service

The Gospers Mountain fire which has burned for two-and-a-half months northwest of Sydney was finally brought under control on Sunday. Bilton said 100 engineers from the Papua New Guinea Defence Force would arrive in the state on Monday to help firefighters with road clearing.

However, some areas could see considerably more rain than this, leading to a weather whiplash between heat, drought and flames to flooding.

a path with trees on the side of a dirt field: In this Dec. 30, 2019, photo provided by Siobhan Threlfall, a fire approaches the village of Nerrigundah, Australia. (AP Photo/Siobhan Threlfall)© Siobhan Threlfall/AP In this Dec. 30, 2019, photo provided by Siobhan Threlfall, a fire approaches the village of Nerrigundah, Australia. (AP Photo/Siobhan Threlfall)

Other regions could see lighter rains, including southern Victoria and South Australia, where bush fire danger remains high.

Computer models show the heaviest rain may fall in thunderstorms close to the coast, which could keep the highest totals away from areas where large fires are still burning. However, some relief appears likely across a large area. The rains will be heaviest on Wednesday in Victoria and New South Wales, and will then spread further northward through late week, Scully said in an online video.

“Hopefully some of this heavy rainfall will fall over the fire sites, and help control or even extinguish some of those fires. But it’s a bit of a double-edged sword, as heavy rainfall and gusty winds bring the potential for flash flooding, particularly in the burnt out areas of New South Wales and Victoria,” Scully said.

Over 1 billion animals feared dead in Australian wildfires, experts say

  Over 1 billion animals feared dead in Australian wildfires, experts say The World Wildlife Fund in Australia estimates that as many as 1.25 billion animals may have been killed directly or indirectly from fires that have scorched Australia. "The fires have been devastating for Australia’s wildlife and wild places, as massive areas of native bushland, forests and parks have been scorched," Stuart Blanch, an environmental scientist with the World Wildlife Fund in Australia, told USA TODAY. Many forests will take many decades to recover, he said.Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

Australian authorities say a fourth person has died in a week of massive bushfires on the nation's east coast. Crews are still battling over 120 fires in NSW and Queensland, but locals in Western Australia have now been warned of extremely dangerous conditions.

There will also be rain in Victoria - but no relief for fire - ravaged Kangaroo Island. 'It will be quite welcome but there are some extra dangers and risks associated with it as the landscape is quite vulnerable with the fire damage. 'Hopefully we will receive some good rainfall in fire affected areas.' Rain is also set to some bring relief to Victoria this week - but not enough to put out 19 fires.

She added that these areas are vulnerable to “landslips” and trees coming down due to sudden downpours. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, officials are working to protect Sydney’s water supply against any mud or ash flows that could overwhelm reservoirs and other water systems.

However, the coming rainfall will not be enough to end the drought, bring an end to the fire season or even extinguish more than a few of the blazes, given the massive extent of many of the ongoing fires. One so-called “megafire,” for example, has measured at least 1.5 million acres alone.

The scale and scope of the bush fires is staggering. In New South Wales, the fires have destroyed more than 2,000 homes. Smoke from the fires, lofted to the stratosphere by towering fire-induced thunderstorms, is now circumnavigating the globe and the firestorms have wiped out unique natural ecosystems, including species already on the brink of extinction, that may be irreplaceable.

A weather pattern more conducive to bush fires could reemerge in the coming weeks, considering that Australia has seen some of its worst historical fires in January and February. However, some of the large-scale patterns that favored hot and dry conditions in Australia this spring and summer, such as an atmosphere-ocean cycle known as the Indian Ocean Dipole, have returned to a more neutral position.

However, other factors at work, including climate change, are still raising the odds of a hotter and drier rest of the Australian summer season.

Australian bushfires reveal ancient aquatic system older than the pyramid .
Extensive water channels built by indigenous Australians thousands of years ago to trap and harvest eels for food have been revealed after wildfires burned away thick vegetation in the state of Victoria. The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape, consisting of channels, weirs and dams built from volcanic rocks, is one of the world's most extensive and oldest aquaculture systems, according to UNESCO. Constructed by the Gunditjmara people more than 6,600 years ago, it is older than Egypt's pyramids.

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