Australia fires weather forecast: worse to come as hot, dry, windy Saturday set to fan bushfires | Australia news
Dangerous fire conditions are expected through much of south-eastern Australia this weekend, where temperatures rising into the mid 40Cs will add to already hazardous conditions and fuel out of control bushfires that continue to burn.
The expected extreme conditions prompted the New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, to declare a week-long state of emergency on Thursday.
“We don’t take these decisions lightly but we also want to make sure we’re taking every single precaution to be prepared for what could be a horrible day on Saturday,” she said.
The Bureau of Meteorology expects conditions in NSW, ACT and Victoria to be as hazardous if not worse than those on New Year’s Eve, when hundreds of fires burned across the country, destroying huge swathes of bushland and hundreds of properties, and forcing thousands of people to flee.
“We are seeing very dangerous fire danger conditions developing over the next few days, with a real concern on Saturday through eastern parts of Victoria and southern NSW,” said Jonathan How, forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology.
Dangerous conditions were observed in South Australia on Friday, where many places recorded highs of over 40C. Hot winds pushed ahead of a cold front, bringing thunderstorms with some heavy rain, although not in the southern part of the state where fires were burning, including at Kangaroo Island.
Temperatures were in the high 30s around much of Victoria on Friday. Those temperatures are expected to rise into the low to mid-40s on Saturday, accompanied by a hot and strong northerly wind, that will tend north-westerly in NSW and north-easterly along the coast.
Dry conditions are expected to continue for NSW and the ACT on Saturday, with daytime temperatures again reaching into the mid 40s. Thunderstorms are possible over the south, central west and northern ranges, but not expected to bring much in the way of rain.
The bureau is expecting severe fire danger for parts of the Mallee, Northern Country and East Gippsland, reaching extreme for the north-eastern Victoria and across the border into NSW. They expect fires to flare with the hot wind.
“We will see extreme fire danger for many communities that have seen these very ferocious fires pass through on New Year’s Eve, so that does include places such as the Shoalhaven-Illawarra area, southern ranges and south coast, and also the ACT,” How said.
Pockets of bushfire smoke are expected in the east and over the western slopes of NSW, along with possible dust. Dust is also expected over Victoria’s north-west, with areas of smoke haze in the east.
Smoke haze is expected to continue in Canberra, where the air quality has been at extremely hazardous levels since Wednesday. Temperatures there are forecast to peak at 42C on Saturday, before cooler conditions make their way through the region on Sunday and Monday.
The cooler, gusty southerly change is expected to hit western Victoria on Saturday morning, making its way east in the afternoon and into southern NSW late in the day. Temperatures in northern NSW will remain above average but the south should see some relief.
The bureau has warned that the cool change will hit affected regions later than it did on New Year’s Eve, expected to arrive Gippsland in the afternoon, and moving up the coast into the evening. Sydney, where temperatures are expected to peak at around 34C near the coast and 45C in the western suburbs, will feel the change closer to midnight.
Isolated showers are forecast to develop over south-western Victoria later in the weekend but are only expected to bring daily totals of about 5mm-10mm.
“The main difference for many communities is that it will be a lot cooler than what we will see [on Saturday],” How said. “However, it’s going to be quite dry, and with those winds it could be quite smoky as well. So unfortunately there’s not much relief on the way.”