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Wild weather hit parts of Australia as bushfires destroy more homes in NSW


Wild weather continues across large parts of southeast Australia as strong winds and thunderstorms hit bushfire-stricken New South Wales and Victoria beginning January 31, 2020. Rains are also forecast across southern Queensland in the following days.

Strong storms generated hazardous conditions for firefighters in NSW on Sunday, February 2, as more homes were destroyed in the Bega Valley.

"There have been additional homes lost in the Bega Valley," said mayor Kristy McBain.

"We're talking probably dozens more. We want to make sure we continue to support our community. This fire isn't over yet," the mayor added.

With this, the NSW Health also advised residents in several parts of the state to avoid outdoors in the meantime as bushfire smoke and dust produced poor air quality.

On Monday, February 3, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issued severe thunderstorm warnings for damaging winds, heavy rainfall, and huge hailstones for the Mid North Coast, parts of Northern Rivers, Hunder, and Northern Tablelands.

In addition, BOM advised residents to remain vigilant with wind changes within the day– although fire conditions in many areas across southern NSW have reportedly improved on Monday, there are still 22 uncontained out of 61 fires burning.

"Around 2 000 firefighters and support personnel are in the field today. A southerly change is due later today which will bring in drier conditions. Stay alert to changing conditions," the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) also warned.

In Victoria, storms reportedly knocked off transmission towers, affecting power supply. On January 31, power provider AusNet confirmed that the storm brought down about eight to 10 towers.

"These lines feed into the Interconnector from Eastern Victoria to South Australia," said state reporter Simon Love.

Over 26 000 homes mostly in Melbourne lost electricity, including more than 17 000 customers of AusNet.

Singer Elton John's show at Rochford Wines in the Yarra Valley was also affected by heavy downpour, which was eventually canceled after several musical instruments and monitors were damaged.

"It was a wild weekend across Victoria," said BOM on Monday. "Humid, tropical air brought storms, heavy rainfall, and damaging winds."

A gale warning was issued for East Gippsland Coast on February 3, while strong wind warnings were in effect for Gippsland Lakes, Central Coast, and Central Gippsland Coast.

Meanwhile, in Queensland, significant rain is expected to drench drought-stricken parts of the state this week.

"This is going to be the most significant rainfall by the time we finish this week that they have seen in quite some time," said BOM forecaster Harry Clark.

The state sweltered through Monday, February 3, with areas west of Brisbane including Ipswich, Gatton, Warwick, and Roma scorching around 40 °C (104 °F).

By Tuesday, southerly change in the west will make the temperatures cooler as the sweltering conditions disappear.

"It will be the start of a fairly showery and wet week for much of south-east Queensland and the southern interior as well," Clark said.

Much of the state will receive the heaviest rainfall on Wednesday, February 5. Daily falls up to 30 mm (1.2 inches) are expected across the regions of Maranoa and Warrego, which lacked rain in January.

"On Wednesday, we could see those falls become a little heavier as we see a coastal trough develop."

"In the west, we do have a trough system at the surface which is combining with an upper trough and that’s going to really lead to some decent totals over the southern interior of the state over the coming days and, indeed, into the weekend."

Featured image credit: NSW RFS

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