Rain brings some relief, potential concerns for fire-ravaged Australia

Picture: Catarina Sousa/Pexels

Picture: Catarina Sousa/Pexels

Published Jan 16, 2020


Canberra - A burst of rain on Thursday brought much-needed

relief to eastern Australia amid the bush fire crisis, but

authorities also warned of potential dangerous conditions caused by

the storms to come.

Severe thunderstorm warnings have been issued for regions including

bush fire-hit areas in New South Wales (NSW), where more than 80

blazes are still burning. 

"The rains on the way!" The Bureau of Meteorology said on its Twitter

account. "Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are current for eastern NSW

with storms expected to last into the night."

The Blue Mountains suburb of Faulconbridge recorded NSW's highest

rainfall in the past 24 hours with 45 millimetres. The weather bureau

forecast that up to 100 millimetres of rain would fall in some areas.

%%%twitter https://twitter.com/hashtag/Storm?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Stormclouds rolling into #Edgeroi near #Narrabri in NSW this afternoon are set to soak parched paddocks. Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are current for eastern NSW with storms expected to last into the night. Current warnings: https://t.co/TBsl68S81a pic.twitter.com/sKywwwpHF3

— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW)

The widespread rain across areas where bush fires have ravaged large

swathes of land was celebrated by many, with the word "rain"

beginning to trend on Twitter. 

The rain is also a much welcome respite for the firefighters who have

been battling bush fires for more than three months in many areas.

"Relief is here for a number of firefighters working across NSW.

Although this rain won't extinguish all fires, it will certainly go a

long way towards containment," NSW's Rural Fire Service said on


Authorities also warned about possible landslips, flash flooding, and

contaminated ash water flowing into river systems. 

"While the rain is welcomed, heavy rainfall and storms in

fire-affected areas can lead to dangerous conditions such as a higher

risk of flash flooding, falling trees and landslips," Paul

Bailey, the state's emergency services assistant commissioner, told


The wet weather is likely to continue until Monday across eastern


In celebration, one NSW farmer Nick Andrews shaved off his beard,

which he had vowed to grow until an inch of rain fell on his sheep

station near Broken Hill in outback Australia. 

It did not for the past 21 months, but overnight 36 millimetres of

shower fell on his property, Australian broadcaster ABC reported.

"It was just torrential downpour. Flooded the place," he told ABC. 

In Victoria, "isolated thundery showers in eastern and mountain"

areas have been forecast for the next two days, said the weather

bureau, but removed "Severe Thunderstorm Warning" for the state. 

%%%twitter https://twitter.com/hashtag/rainfall?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#rainfallcurrently on the southern firegrounds. Also tracking significant falls in #fire areas further north. Storms are moving through broad areas triggering multiple warnings for #NSW& #ACT https://t.co/oO6QJYCNYF Live radars at https://t.co/VtuY4baNt2 #nswfires pic.twitter.com/UtO4HwxYas

— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW)

Heavy rain, flash flooding and thunderstorms swept across Melbourne

and into the bush fire-hit eastern part of the state overnight.

The fire regions saw just 5 to 10 millimetres of rain, according to

the Bureau of Meteorology, which was not enough to suppress blazes.

The rainstorm did help clear the hazardous bush fire smoke blanketing

Melbourne city since Tuesday. 

Some 40 bush fires were burning in Victoria on Thursday evening, but

none of them at the highest "emergency" alert level.

The bush fires across Australia have already burned more than 11.8

million hectares of land since September. At least 28 people have

died and more than 1 billion animals killed.

Last week, the Bureau of Meteorology said Australia had its hottest

and driest year on record in 2019 and that the link between the bush

fires and record low rainfall and increased temperatures was clear.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of fish may have died after rain washed

sediments and ash from bush fires into the Macleay River on the NSW

mid-north coast, Australian news agency AAP reported. 

"It's devastating. It's unprecedented," Bellbrook resident Arthur

Bain told AAP on Thursday.

Rainfall is adding ash from the bush fires and other sediments to

catchments in the region which can cause rapid drops of oxygen levels

in the water, NSW department of primary industries said in a

statement on Thursday.


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