Record-breaking November temperatures continue to spark bushfires across Australia


Large areas of Australia saw a blast of extreme heat last week, causing November max temperature records to tumble across the country and Catastrophic Fire Danger in parts of Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria.

In Victoria, winds of 100 km/h (62 mph) sparked over 60 fires as an unprecedented heatwave moved north to south. "This shows us what the risks will be in summer around Victoria, so we still have a long way to go to be ready," state emergency services minister Lisa Neville said.

Crews were equipped and trained for the challenging forecast summer, but the minister was concerned about residents being prepared in areas that are prone to bushfire. "One of the things we felt earlier this year out of the fires that happened over the summer was that there was a level of complacency."

On Thursday, November 21, a fire near Yorketown on South Australia's Yorke peninsula was sparked by a network power fault.

The blaze prompted locals to be evacuated as it destroyed homes and crops, and injured over 30. At least 11 properties were affected, but the full extent of losses is yet to be identified.

Many residents took shelter in the Edithburgh town hall, according to mayor Darren Braund. "There were warnings throughout the night from Country Fire Service," he stated. "All of a sudden the wind changed. From what I understand, the fire jumped containment lines. That’s when it got very dangerous."

Code red, the most extreme bushfire warning, has been issued for the central and northwestern regions in Victoria. Moreover, a fire ban was imposed across the state.

Melbourne recorded 40.9 °C (105. 6 °F) in the same period, matching the 1894 record for the hottest November day.

Laverton was the hottest place in Victoria, registering a sweltering 44.3 °C (111.7 °F).

In the west part of the state, more than 80 000 homes were left without electricity after a network failure that spawned blaze.

According to reports, fires continue to rage across New South Wales. Six people have died and 612 have been ravaged.

Several more areas in South Australia broke November heat records, including the following: Lameroo at 44 °C (111.2 °F), Murray Bridge at 45.3 °C (113.5 °F), and Nullarbor at 46.6 °C (115.9 °F).

In Tasmania, Hobart equaled its hottest November day record, while the statewide top temperature of 38.3 °C (100.9 °F) was 0.2°C (0.4 °F) lower than the November record for any area in the state.

Also on November 21, many residents noticed that the sun appeared to be bright red in the afternoon. The 'red sun' was due to longer wavelengths of light that scatters when particles like smoke and dust fill the air. The smoke filters out the shorter wavelengths, leaving mainly red and orange wavelengths.

As of Sunday, November 24, there were around 65 fires burning across New South Wales, with 31 still uncontained. Blazes in Victoria and northern Queensland are also causing alarm.

New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a 48 million dollar budget for bushfire recovery, which includes up to 15 000 dollars for farmers and small businesses.

Featured image credit: Nihal / @Nihal73748

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