Catastrophic bushfire conditions in Australia, over a dozen temperature records smashed


More than a dozen temperature records have been broken across South Australia on November 20, 2019, as bushfires continue to create catastrophic conditions all over the state, with blazes still burning at emergency levels. Over 100 schools have been closed, electricity firms have cut off power to thousands, and residents in high-risk regions were prompted to evacuate as the blazes opened up a new front.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, multiple areas broke the maximum November temperature records, the most notable were the following: 46.6 °C (115.9 °F) in Nullarbor, 44.3 °C (111.74 °F) in Parafield and Keith, 44 °C (111.2 °F) in Lameroo and Murray Bridge Airport, 43.1 °C (109.58 °F) Strathalbyn, 40.8 °C (105.44 °F) in Clare, and  40.7 °C (105.26 °F) in Hindmarsh Island.

Seven districts have been catastrophic fire danger zones, including the Mount Lofty Ranges and Mid North near Adelaide, while two were rated "extreme" and six were "severe".

Country Fire Service (CFS) assistant chief officer Brenton Eden said emergency services would be on high alert throughout the day. "We don't take seven catastrophic fire danger warnings lightly– that is as bad as it gets," he said. "That means when a fire starts it's not possible for us to control it, so it places the community at great risk."

At 02:00 UTC, emergency warnings were issued for bushfires blazing on a day of chaotic danger. The fires are near Price on the upper Yorke Peninsula, near Angaston in the Barossa Valley and on the Port Wakefield Highway near Port Wakefield.

The National Weather Service (NWS) Rural Fire Service has released footage of the challenge firemen are facing in the north. The Myall Creek blaze has reached Summerland Way, and there has been an increase of fire activity around Whiporie.

"Fire is burning in a westerly direction through pine forests towards Camira Creek and Old Tenterfield Road," the RFS said. "The fire is located between the areas of New Italy and Tullymorgan."

The fire was raised to "watch and act" alert level. As of 05:30 UTC, the Guyra fire near Ebor was the second fire in the state at that level. Firefighters said it was being contained.

A Code Red Day has been issued for Thursday, November 21, for the Mallee and Northern Country districts in Victoria amid extreme weather warnings across the state.

"Fire agencies will find these fires difficult to control," Emergency Management Victoria advised. "There is a high likelihood that people in the path of fire will be killed or seriously injured in these conditions."

Officials have also declared a total fire ban across South Australia.

As of 10:00 UTC, almost 49 fires are still blazing across New South Wales, 25 of which were uncontained. All fires are currently at "advice" level. Fire conditions are expected to get worse on November 21, as crews work through the night to conduct backburning to safeguard properties.

In Queensland, the State of Fire Emergency was partially lifted as fires slow down. Commissioner Mike Wassing said the declaration would be lifted from 36 of 42 local government areas. 

"The State of Fire Emergency Declaration now applies only to Toowoomba, Lockyer Valley, Somerset, Ipswich, Southern Downs, and Scenic Rim local government areas," said Wassing. "Significant blazes continue to burn in these areas and the bushfire risk remains high, which is why the declaration will continue until further notice."

A series of unprecedented bushfires began burning in New South Wales and Queensland, Australia at the beginning of the month. As of November 19, reports said the flames have destroyed 577 homes and burned more than 1.6 million ha (40.7 million acres).

Featured image credit: windy.com


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