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World Australia fires latest: Rain and hail pelt fire-ravaged states, bringing new risks -- and potential relief

04:45  17 january  2020
04:45  17 january  2020 Source:   cnn.com

Australia races to strengthen fire defenses ahead of heat, wind later this week

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Severe thunderstorms are pelting some regions of Australia suffering from historic wildfires with powerful rain and large hail . Related Stories. Rain and hail pelt fire - ravaged Australian states . Nanos on the Numbers gives you the latest political, business and social trends.

AUSTRALIA – Severe thunderstorms are pelting some regions of Australia suffering from historic wildfires with powerful rain and large hail . The fires that have swept through Victoria and New South Wales all summer are some of the most powerful and damaging conflagrations Australia has seen in

a man standing in front of a sunset: Nancy Allen and Brian Allen stand outside as high winds push smoke and ash from the Currowan Fire towards Nowra, New South Wales, Australia, on January 4, 2020.
Gallery by The Atlantic

Severe thunderstorms are pelting some regions of Australia suffering from historic wildfires with powerful rain, bringing much-needed relief to firefighters battling the worst blazes the country has seen in decades.

"Our fingers are crossed that this continues over the coming days," the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) said Friday in a tweet.

Rain has fallen on most firegrounds in the state over the last 24 hours, the RFS said. However, it wasn't enough to put out the flames. Eighty-two fires are still burning, including 30 that are yet to be contained.

Residents of drought-hit areas who have spent years waiting for rain celebrated its arrival on Thursday. Rain fell in major cities, including Sydney, where water flowed through the streets.

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Severe thunderstorms are pelting some regions of Australia suffering from historic wildfires with powerful rain and large hail . The fires that have swept through Victoria and New South Wales all summer are some of the most powerful and damaging conflagrations Australia has seen in decades.

Rain and hail pelt fire - ravaged Australian states , bringing new risks -- and potential relief (CNN). Dark smoke from Australia fires is circling the Earth, NASA says (USA Today). Venezuela: convoy attacked as lawmakers barred from assembly (The Guardian).

Forecasters predict more rain over the next few days, but they warn it could cause flash flooding in areas of parched land. Years of drought have left some regions so dry that rain just runs off the ground. The massive fires have burned through some of the vegetation that would normally soak up the precipitation.

a large bridge over some water: Heavy rain falls ahead of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 15, 2020.© Darrian Traynor/Getty Images Heavy rain falls ahead of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 15, 2020.

Trees weakened by fire are also at risk of falling, and rain could wash ash and debris in waterways, causing water pollution, authorities say.

The Victoria State Emergency Service posted several images on Facebook showing damage from the storm, including a sinkhole four meters (13 feet) deep.

Lightning from the storms has sparked a number of new grass fires in New South Wales and Victoria, though it's hoped the damp conditions will help stop the flames from spreading.

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  "Get out": Australians flee again as heat and wind fan huge bushfires 1/50 SLIDES © Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images A red and smoke filled sky is seen above the central township of Kingscote in the early hours of Jan. 10 in Kingscote. 2/50 SLIDES © Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images Kangaroo Island residents gather at a local stock store on Jan. 10 in Kingscote.

Australia is being ravaged by the worst wildfires seen in decades, with large swaths of the country devastated since the fire season began in July. State and federal authorities are struggling to contain the massive blazes, even with firefighting assistance from other countries, including the United States .

Severe thunderstorms are bringing temporary relief , along with new risks , to Australia that has been ravaged by historic bushfires. Rain and hail pelt fire - ravaged Australian states , bringing new risks -- and potential reliefToday at 12:04 AMwww.cnn.com.

Parts of Melbourne were hit with as much as 77 millimeters (3 inches) of rain, causing flooding and some damage, the Victoria Bureau of Meteorology said Thursday.

CNN affiliate Nine News reported some neighborhoods were hit by a month's worth of rain in just hours, though not in East Gippsland, where some of the worst fires in the state are raging.

Earlier this week, the New South Wales RFS had said that if the rain forecasts held true, it could be a panacea for the region's firefighters.

"This will be all of our Christmas, birthday, engagement, anniversary, wedding and graduation presents rolled into one," it said Monday on Twitter. "Fingers crossed."

Haze blankets Melbourne

The fires that have swept through Victoria and NSW all summer are some of the most powerful and damaging conflagrations Australia has seen in decades.

At least 28 people have died nationwide, and in the state of NSW alone, more than 3,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged. State and federal authorities are struggling to contain the massive blazes, even with firefighting assistance from other countries, including the United States.

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Severe thunderstorms are pelting some regions of Australia suffering from historic wildfires with powerful rain and large hail .The storms or whether there will be enough of it to make a difference in fire - ravaged and drought-stricken areas.So far there hasn't been enough rain to put out the fires

Severe thunderstorms are pelting some regions of Australia suffering from historic wildfires with powerful rain and large hail . The massive fires have also burned through some of the vegetation that would normally soak up the precipitation. The Victoria State Emergency Service posted several

All this has been exacerbated by persistent heat and drought caused by climate change. Tens of thousands of people participated in protests around the country last week calling on the government to do more to combat the climate crisis.

The situation is already dire. Significant amounts of flora and fauna unique to Australia have been burned or killed. One group of ecologists estimated that perhaps a billion animals have been affected nationwide. Some towns have been running out of water. Others have gone up in flames completely.

Smoke from the fires has blanketed major cities in haze in recent weeks.

Rain has helped clear the skies, but the air quality is expected to worsen in coming days, according to the Victoria Environment Protection Authority.

Haze has affected the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, with officials canceling some practice sessions and qualifying matches earlier this week. Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire after having trouble breathing.

In recent years, extreme temperatures have made for tough conditions at tennis' first Grand Slam of the calendar year -- some competitors collapsed or complained of heatstroke at the 2018 event.

Tennis Australia officials say they're taking precautions to protect players should the heat and smog return.

Temperatures in Melbourne have dropped sharply in the last 48 hours, to below 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), eliminating the risk of excessive heat -- for now.

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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