Rain dampens fire-hit parts of NSW and Victoria, Australia


Rain fell across parts of New South Wales and Victoria in Australia on Wednesday and Thursday, January 15 and 16, 2020, where dozens of bushfires continue to rage. Meanwhile, severe thunderstorms caused flooding in Melbourne, resulting in a large sinkhole.

NWS's Snowy Valley and south coast, and Victoria's East Gippsland and northeast received 15 mm (0.6 inches) of rain.

As much as 15 mm (0.6 inches) of much-needed rain dampened fire-affected regions of NWS's Snowy Valley and the south coast; and Victoria's East Gippsland and northeast. However, as of January 16, over 80 fires in NSW and 18 in Victoria continue to burn. Moreover, a bolt of lightning ignited two new fires in Great Otway national park.

Despite rains, the NWS Rural Fire Service (NWS RFS) and Victorian County Fire Authority (CFA) said the amount was not enough to put out existing blazes.

"Unfortunately, it had minimal impact in suppressing the fire activity across east and northeast Victoria," said a spokesman for the CFA.

RFS also gave their comment, saying, "Although this rain won't extinguish fires, it will certainly go a long way toward containment."

In Melbourne, 44 mm (1.6 inches) of rain fell at Avalon in just 30 minutes on Wednesday afternoon, while wind gusts reached 110 km/h (68 mph).

As a result of heavy rains overnight, a 15 m (49 feet) deep sinkhole with a diameter of 10 m (33 feet) opened up in the suburbs of Keilor. Essendon SES team said the sinkhole continued to widen when they arrived, and debris was still falling around the edges.

SES has started working with Victoria Police, Melbourne Water, and the City of Moonee Valley to examine and secure the scene.

The crew said they responded to a total of 580 events related to the rains and thunderstorms, with the north and northeast parts being the worst-hit.

St. Albans registered the highest rainfall at 77 mm (3 inches), while Avalon received 49 mm (30 inches) and Keitor 45 mm (28 inches).

Other bushfire-affected areas, unfortunately, did not get as much rain as Melbourne. FOr instance, in the Gippsland region, Mallacoota had no rainfall and Rose Hill near Bairnsdale only had 0.6 mm (0.02 inches).

According to forecasts, up to 50 mm (2 inches) of rain is likely across the NSW south coast into Saturday, January 18, and up to 25 mm (1 inch) in the Snowy Valley and northern Victoria, where fires continue to burn.

Furthermore, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issued thunderstorm warnings for much of NSW, while severe thunderstorm warning has been canceled for Victoria as of January 16.

The 2019-2020 Australian bushfire season has so far resulted in at least 29 fatalities, burned 18.6 million hectares (46 million acres) of land, and destroyed over 5 900 buildings, including around 2 683 homes.

Featured image credit: @DaleDrinkwater/Twitter

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