High temperatures and strong winds forecast across much of NSW has the state’s fire crews bracing for a return of severe fire conditions.
Although fire grounds across the state have received rainfall in the past week, the NSW Rural Fire Service has warned forecast high temperatures and winds could see fire activity increase today.
Meanwhile, in Victoria heavy, downpours have brought brown coloured rain.
Many Melbourne residents woke to find their backyards, pools and spas covered in a dirty rain after dust was carried through the air by high winds from the west yesterday.
Months of unusually dry weather have parched the soils, making it easier for very high winds – up to 80kms/h – to lift dust particles high into the air.
That has resulted in a dirty dumping of rain over large parts of Melbourne.
Authorities are warning NSW residents that the bushfire threat remains serious as the mercury is forecast to rise above 40C.
Temperatures are expected to reach 40C in Nowra on the South Coast, 43C in Penrith in western Sydney, 41C in Cessnock in the Hunter region and 42C in Bulahdelah on the mid-north coast.
“Today’s a day to remind everybody not to be complacent. We expect to have these sort of 40-plus temperature days again and again between now and the first month of the autumn,” NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said.
The Rural Fire Service (RFS) has 1300 volunteers deployed across area of operations today.
ANd RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said conditions on the ground had improved over the past week due to rainfall, but not all fire-affected communities had enjoyed a drenching.
Low humidity and very strong northwesterly winds have crews bracing today for a potentially dangerous day.
Winds could reach 55kms/h, with gusts close to 100kms/h.
Mr Fitzsimmons said fires on Sydney’s perimeter – including the large Gospers Mountain and Green Wattle Creek fires – had the potential to deteriorate, while the NSW south coast would be closely monitored.
“In that widespread rainfall there’s been different levels of rain, different amounts of rain which have had different effects,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.
“There’s every potential for flare-ups and new ignitions.”
“All fire grounds have received some rainfall and that has greatly reduced some fire activity but we might still see some fire grounds pick up and move tomorrow.”
Total fire bans are in place in NSW for today in the greater Sydney, greater Hunter, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, southern ranges, central ranges and north western fire districts.
Severe fire danger ratings are also in place for these regions.
Air quality in Sydney today is forecast to be poor.
The Bureau of Meteorology yesterday issued a severe weather warning for damaging winds for parts of NSW’s south and west.
Strong to gale force winds were forecast to continue into today.
The BOM warned today’s damaging winds may extend to the southern tablelands and parts of the central tablelands, the Illawarra and south coast.
The warning comes after severe thunderstorms hit Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong on Monday, leaving homes and businesses without power.
Almost 70 fires continued to burn across the state last night.
South-east Queensland can also expect a hot and sticky day, with the humidity already hitting 86 per cent this morning.
Victoria welcomes rain before long weekend
Victoria’s merry-go-round weather is forecast to bring statewide rain today before settling down ahead of Australia Day.
A cool change that swept across the state yesterday is hoped to provide relief after a week where golf ball-sized hail, flash flooding, and thunderstorms preceded a temperature rise that pushed the fire danger to severe levels.
And yesterday a dust storm covered Mildura with tints of red and orange and reduced visibility on the roads.
It also swept through parts of South Australia and NSW.
The city received 22mm of rain overnight, more than 30mm fell in Geelong and while this is welcome, it is causing problems around Melbourne.
There is flooding on the city’s roads and Burnley train station is also flooded and closed.
The SES has received 350 calls for help and there is a severe weather warning in place, with high winds expected to continue.
However, the rain is forecast to ease later today.
Central and southern parts of the state are expected to receive between 25mm and 40mm of rain, while fire-ravaged areas may only receive falls of up to 10mm.
The Bureau of Meteorology last night issued a severe weather warning for damaging winds for parts of Gippsland and Victoria’s southwest, to hit overnight and into today.
Between 6.30pm yesterday and 6.30am today the SES received 233 calls for help across Victoria, 35 of which are still active.
One hundred and fifty calls were to attend downed trees, while 69 were for building damage.
The Malvern unit had the most callouts – 32 – while Mansfield had the second highest.
Despite hot temperatures and strong winds on yesterday, emergency services managed to prevent a significant amount of new fires starting.
Today’s rainfall will give way to clear skies on Friday and temperatures expected to stay in the low 20s until Monday.
Increased fire activity in East Gippsland yesterday prompted emergency services to place up to five Watch and Acts near Cann River.
These alerts were later downgraded while firefighters continued battling the flames and re-opened roads.
A call to visit and support Victorian bushfire-ravaged areas was put out by the state’s tourism this week.
More than 100 businesses and sporting bodies such as the AFL will hold meetings, events and conferences in Victoria’s fire-affected areas to support local communities.
Victoria’s bushfires have so far burnt more than 1.5 million hectares, mainly in the state’s East Gippsland and northeast regions.