Most of Australia’s wildfire that scorched east coast was drenched on Friday by the heaviest rainfall in almost 20 years, extinguishing some of the most lethal blazes and offering a sigh of relief to farmers struggling with an extended drought.
The Appeasing Effect
The deluge came with its risks as officials issued a warning of flash floods and landslides across New South Wales (NSW), which is Australia’s most populous state; however, it was generally welcomed gleefully after months of distressing bushfires.
“There’s lots of smiles around the place,” Shane Fitzsimmons, NSW Rural Fire Services (RFS) Commissioner who has been more used to delivering fire evacuation orders in recent weeks, told reporters in Sydney.
“It is breaking the back of this fire season, no doubt,” Fitzsimmons said. “The rain is good for business and farms as well as being really good for quenching some of these fires we’ve been dealing with for many, many months.” The downpour had the effect of appeasing the number of active fires in NSW by 20 in one day, a success rate that NSW RFS said it was “over the moon” about.
Till afternoon, there were almost 40 active fires in NSW, less than half of them were at the peak of the crisis. All of them were burning at the lowest level of danger warning of “advice” only. The neighboring state of Victoria had 21 active fires, also at the lowest level.
About 11.7 million hectares of Australian wilderness have been scorched by a line of humongous wildfires since September; this has resulted in the killing of 33 people, more than a billion animals have perished and devastated thousands of homes. The horrific lengthy bushfire season has followed a three-year drought across the country.
A welcomed surprise
The heavy downpour across NSW and Victoria State on Friday was something like a welcome surprise after the Bureau of Meteorology’s three-month forecast released in January, continued high temperatures and little rainfall.
It was expected that Sydney will receive as much as 130 millimeters of rain in the 24 hours to Saturday morning, the highest one-day rainfall since February 5, 2002, according to Friday’s data present on the bureau’s website.
“What we are broadly expecting over the next couple of days is this coastal trough to hang around, to keep delivering this widespread, prolonged, steady rainfall,” Jane Golding, BOM forecaster said.
Fitzsimmons said he was assured that the continued rainfall in the coming days would aid firefighters in NSW to bring the 17 blazes that are still come under the category of “uncontained” under control.
“We expect rainfall to continue to fall across a lot of these firegrounds and that will result in a number of those being declared contained and hopefully we will be confident we won’t see new ignitions from anywhere in those firegrounds,” he said.
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