Monthly Archives: January 2012

SA town fears return of fire

Bushfire over Flinders Ranges

A forecast wind change could blow a bushfire burning in South Australia’s southern Flinders Ranges back towards the rural township of Wilmington, the Country Fire Service says.

The weather bureau has issued a severe fire weather warning for the area for tomorrow with temperatures to reach the mid 30s and strong wind gusts expected.

More than 200 firefighters and five water bombers are battling the blaze, which has scorched about 8,000 hectares of land.

The bushfire moved towards Wilmington yesterday, prompting the Country Fire Service (CFS) to declare it a threat to homes and lives.

That danger reduced as firefighters battled throughout the night, but the fire continues to burn uncontrolled.

CFS state coordinator Brenton Eden says aerial water bombers were grounded yesterday because of smoke but have today dumped water onto the fire’s north-eastern front.

He says a wind change forecast for around sunrise tomorrow could hamper attempts to control it.

“This fire will continue to grow in all directions overnight until the north-westerly winds tomorrow. They will be associated with we believe 5 to 10 millimetres of rain,” he said.

“However, with all good news there’s a sting – we are facing 11 fire bans tomorrow across the state. All [of those are] severe, including the Flinders Ranges.

“So whilst we have a window of opportunity that goes through until sunrise tomorrow, we have a period of high danger tomorrow between sunrise and the arrival of any moisture over the fire ground.

“It is not likely that this fire will come under control for several days, many days. This will be very much a wind-driven fire.”

He says large fire breaks have been established around Wilmington.

“We have increased the level of asset protection in Wilmington with the arrival of a Metropolitan Fire Service strike team to protect that community,” he said.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Simon Timcke says firefighters face a difficult task.

“With those freshening and becoming gusty northerly winds, probably with some fairly dry air as well, it’s the sort of weather conditions that would cause the firefighters some concern,” he said.

But he says some relief may be on the way.

“At some stage during Saturday afternoon, I would expect to see some showers develop, possibly even the chance of a thunderstorm up there and with a bit of luck some rainfall totals significant enough to help them in their efforts in fighting that fire.”

Stock lost

Hundreds of sheep and other stock have been killed, along with native wildlife.

Local grazier Brenton Stevens managed to save his cattle by moving them to a bare paddock but says much of his land was burnt.

“We have two acres left, so we expect the cattle – they’re fat now – but whether they’ll keep fat for the next six months on two acres, one doesn’t know,” he said.

Other farmers were not as lucky, with hundreds of sheep being put down.

Firefighters from around the state have been called in as reinforcements and several roads in the area remain closed.

Total Fire Bans have been declared in eleven of the state’s districts for tomorrow.

Aerial of Flinders Range fire in SA
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Storms hit Sydney as tornado strikes NSW lake

With more than 300 lightning strikes, bucketing rain and reports of fishing boats missing in a tornado, last night was the epitome of wild weather. Sydney’s northern beaches were the hardest hit by a thunderstorm that moved over the city’s east and northern suburbs late yesterday. Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Jake Phillips said Avalon received 36mm in just half an hour. Advertisement: Story continues below “That was far and away the highest rainfall figures we saw,” Mr Phillips said. Weatherzone meteorologist Doug Fenton said there were about 328 lightning strikes in the Sydney Basin overnight. “There was certainly a lot, particularly in the northern suburbs. “For Sydney, 328 is quite a lot.” Other northern suburbs were drenched, including 28mm at Mona Vale and 27mm at Hornsby, in what Mr Phillips described as a fairly typical Sydney summer thunderstorm. Less typical, however, was a storm that hit Lake Burrendong in the state’s central west yesterday afternoon. Police said heavy hail hit about 5pm, when many fishermen were out on the water. Several boats were unaccounted for for hours as police, State Emergency Service volunteers and a helicopter searched for them. They were all found by about 8.15pm and no injuries were reported to police. Initial media reports last night suggested the lake had been hit by a tornado, but Mr Phillips said that had not yet been confirmed by meteorologists. The wild weather may have been caused by a “micro burst” from a type of thunderstorm called a supercell. “It’s when you get a particularly severe thunderstorm and you get a burst of cold air that comes out of the thunderstorm and rushes towards the ground. “The storm that was over that way, from what we could see on the radar, it looked like a supercell thunderstorm. “That’s a particularly severe type and often with supercells, not always but often, we see things like large hail and a lot of wind damage as well as heavy rain.”

Stephanie Gardiner

 


2011 Hottest year on record for Perth Australia

Audience submitted image

         The Bureau of Meteorology says 2011 was the warmest year on record in Perth and the south west.
Temperatures from 2009 to 2011 are also in the top four hottest years since records began.
The bureau’s Neil Bennett says a hot first three months of last year contributed towards breaking 2010’s record average temperature of 25.3 degrees.
“Certainly, during the year we saw some pretty warm temperatures right the way through and in fact when we looked at the whole year as a total and looked at the mean’s daily maximums, Perth recorded 25.7 in 2011,” he said.
Mr Bennett says a number of months within 2011 were among the warmest ever recorded.
“March was the warmest March on record, April the fifth warmest, August the second warmest and October the third warmest, so when you’ve got all of those coming together it’s not surprising that we broke the record,” he said.

Firecrews battle blazes across four states as weather cools

Arsonist targets southern vales

A water bomber tackles a fire in South Australia

MORE than 100 firefighters are battling a major bushfire near Port Augusta, while blazes rage in three other states.

Crews are battling separate blazes in Queensland, Victoria and Perth as the nation recovers from a blistering heatwave.

The South Australian Country Fire Service (CFS) said a blaze was burning on two fronts in an area about 25km south of Port Augusta in the Flinders Ranges.

“This fire is continuing to expand to the northwest towards Spear Creek and the southwest towards Tattiwa Spring,” the CFS said.

Some roads have been closed and motorists have been asked to avoid the area.

A small number of campers at a local caravan park have also been asked to leave.

Firefighters battle Vic national park blaze

An isolated bushfire is sending smoke across a large section of the vast Grampians National Park in Victoria’s southwest.

The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) says the fire in the far southwest corner of the popular tourist attraction is not threatening property and has grown to more than 165ha in size. It was sparked by lightning strikes earlier yesterday.

DSE spokesman Lee Miezis said 20 firefighters would continue bringing the blaze under control today.

“It is in a very remote area, so it is not threatening any property or townships at this stage,” he said.

“But there’s a strong southerly wind and smoke covering a fairly wide area, from Ararat, right along the major Western Highway.”

Firefighters will be assisted by 17 light tankers, one large tanker and 12 aircraft.

Mr Miezis said today’s cooler weather would also help firefighters

He said the national park and its neighbouring townships and tourist attractions remained open and people in these areas should monitor any changes in conditions.

Gas bottle sparks island blaze

In Queensland, flames up to 10m high have been reported as a bushfire on Moreton Island burns though scrubland toward small township of Bulwer.

The fire, which began yesterday when a gas bottle exploded at Cravens Creek campground, is now threatening the northern part of the island.

The Department of Environment and Resource Management said about 160ha of bush had been burned.

A Queensland Fire and Rescue spokesman said the National Parks and Wildlife Service was in charge of the fire and despite a successful backburn overnight, the fire once again flared up this morning.

Tangalooma Island Resort director Trevor Hassard volunteered all night and said it was unlikely the fire would be put out for another couple of weeks.

Firefighter injured at Perth Airport

Firefighters have worked through the night managing a blaze that broke out yesterday near Perth Airport and left one FESA officer with minor burns.

The bushfire ripped through about 65ha in eastern Cloverdale yesterday afternoon.

One firefighter was taken to hospital with burns as the bushfire that threatened homes and forced evacuations in Cloverdale was brought under control last night.

Although the blaze is no longer out of control, it is continuing to smoulder on the western side of the Tonkin Highway from Hardey Road to Glassford Road, FESA said.