Category Archives: bushfires

Bushfires and Wild Fires

Rain and storms December 29 and 30 2020 while dry in SW New South Wales.

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Rain and storms December 29 and 30 2020 while dry in SW New South Wales.

Similar to the previous post, rain continues to drench parts of eastern New South Wales while the south and west of the state remains dry resulting in wide variations of weather.

For the 24 hour period to 9 am 30/12/2020, Mona Vale in north east Sydney was drenched with 105 mm with falls of 73 to 78 mm falling in nearby suburbs.

Constant rain has also featured across other parts of New South Wales and cumulative totals are mounting.

For the period 1 December to the 30 December 2020, Horsley Park in Sydney's west has received 112 mm of rain against an average of 69.9 mm while Penrith has received 117 mm against an average of 65 mm. Furthermore, Sydney City has received 118 mm against an average of 77.1 mm.

Afternoon thunderstorms featured across Sydney and areas further north on the Monday 28 December 2020 although we were in Albury.

Interestingly, following the passage of the cold front in southern New South Wales , large banks of alto cumulus castellatus clouds dominated the sky for much of the morning although this cleared during the afternoon.

During the drive from Albury to Sydney on the 29/12/2020, we left Albury under clear skies. At Wagga Wagga, it was clear and sunny. At Gundagai, small cumulus clouds were observed. Between Gundagai and Yass, more and more clouds were observed and by the time we reached Goulburn, it was cool and cloudy with occasional drizzle patches. We reached Sydney under showery skies.

There has been a distinct dry line between the wetter eastern half and the drier western half centred close to Conroys Gap. Conroys Gap is a pass that rises approximately 650 metres in height being part of a wider north to south range of hills that divides the southern tablelands with the slopes and plains just to the west of Yass. This is where the boundary between the two air masses has been situated over the past few days.

In this instance, the eastern half has seen much of the rain while the south and west has missed the event.

Weather models are now showing and suggesting that some of the rain and storms should start to penetrate further inland thus reaching some of the drier western and southern areas during the period 31 December 2020 to the 6 January 2021. Rainfall models do suggest falls of 25 mm to 50 mm for the drier regions with continued rain for the eastern half of the state.

The attached photo taken just east of Albury (27/12/2020 looking west) is showing the typical weather conditions being experienced in southern New South Wales ahead of the most recent cool change being thin high cloud as temperatures soared close to 36C. However with elevated fire danger, fires have been a concern. The plume of smoke from a grass or bushfire is visible on the distant hills. With forecast rain over coming days, the elevated fire danger should be reduced.

Rain and storms December 29 and 30 2020 while dry in SW New South Wales.

The attached model from the Bureau of Meteorology "Water and the Land" site prepared on the 30/12/2020 is showing forecast rainfall up to the 6/1/2021. It is showing that most of New South Wales including the drier areas should benefit from the developing weather system.

Rain and storms December 29 and 30 2020 while dry in SW New South Wales.

Images January 2020 Bushfires west of Sydney

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Images January 2020 Bushfires west of Sydney

The photos attached to this post are taken just south of Penrith NSW and around Warragamba Dam.

During December 2019 and January 2020 vast areas of the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and areas around Silverdale and Warragamba Dam were scorched by bushfires and between October 2019 and February 2020 plumes of smoke covered large areas of Sydney for days at a time.

Images January 2020 Bushfires west of Sydney

The images attached to this post were taken during January 2020 showing one of the out of control bushfires burning close to the township of Warragamba and the evening sunset image was taken just south of Penrith NSW.

Images January 2020 Bushfires west of Sydney

According to Australian Geographic (March / April 2020 edition, Page 45) the fires across eastern Australia burnt approximately 16 million hectares, with 5,900 buildings destroyed, some 250,000 people required to evacuate (including my parents and my wife and I at Batemans Bay on December 31 2019), some 140 aircraft used during the crises, over 3,000 homes lost, large numbers of animals killed (Exact toll will never be known) and 33 fatalities. The full economic losses are still being worked out.

Images January 2020 Bushfires west of Sydney

West of Sydney, more than 80% of the World Heritage listed Greater Blue Mountains area was impacted. The bushfire crises came to an end during the early part of February 2020 as a result of a major rain event and a reversal of the weather systems in play.

Images January 2020 Bushfires west of Sydney

At the time the images were taken in January 2020, my my wife and I were watching this fire burn from a safe distance and occasionally watching aircraft make low level water bombing.

Batemans Bay Bushfire Catastrophe December 31 2019

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Batemans Bay Bushfire Catastrophe December 31 2019

These images are taken between December 30 2019 and January 1 2020 during our visit to the South Coast - Batemans Bay. We were certainly aware of the Currowan Bushfire west of Batemans Bay which had been burning for a number of weeks leading up to this catastrophic event.

Batemans Bay Bushfire Catastrophe December 31 2019

My wife and I were only here due to new years eve and a planned BBQ with parents. However things quickly turned dangerous upon our arrival 30/12/2019. During the afternoon, thick choking smoke enveloped the entire south coast but towards evening this smoke lifted and at sunset, my wife and I were shocked to discover that the northern part of Batemans Bay was underneath a Pyro - cumulonimbus cloud that was capable of generating lightning strikes. This did not occur although a similar cloud formation to the south which could be seen in the distance did generate lightning strikes.

Batemans Bay Bushfire Catastrophe December 31 2019
Batemans Bay Bushfire Catastrophe December 31 2019

More alarming though was the fact that warm embers were dropping from this pyro cumulonimbus cloud and we knew this was dangerous. I picked up one ember which was warm.

Throughout the night the glow of the fire to the west was visible and early morning the wind increased from the north west. By daybreak we learnt that the bushfire had raced out of the state forests and that Mogo was heavily impacted by flames. Fanned by the hot dry north west winds, the fire front tore through Mogo obliterating most of the town although the Mogo Zoo was saved. Mogo is just 12 km south of Batemans Bay.

More alarming was the fire front that raced towards Catalina and after 9 am the street where my parents live was evacuated. A number of fire brigade units and Police swarmed the area ordering us and residents to drop everything and evacuate immediately to Catalina Beach - The Safe Zone.

Another fire front tore through Malua Bay, another suburb of Batemans Bay to the south.

Batemans Bay Bushfire Catastrophe December 31 2019

In a few minutes with flames imminent, we fled to Catalina Beached and watched a bushfire catastrophe unfold. I have never seen anything like this other than on TV news.

During this time a large spot fire broke out adjacent to the beach which required the use of a Heli crane to tackle. It was later tackled using no less than 3 helicopters.

More alarming were the fact that houses were on fire within the street where my parents live. With thousands of residents and holiday makers taking refuge on the beach we were watching a full scale aerial bombardment with the use of a DC10, a Boeing 737 jet and a third possibly a BAE146 Jet, flying low to the ground one after another.

The southerly change blasted through turned the air into choking ash, smoke and dust and day turned to night. This lasted approximately 20 minutes and the sky later turned orange.

At around 1 pm, my wife and I returned to Country Club Drive where my parents live and were shocked that the fire came to within 30 metres of my parents home, a resident on the opposite side of the road had flames burning at his fenceline, a house was on fire close by and a number of homes were burnt to the ground. We later counted some 22 houses destroyed within 200 metres of my parents home.

Batemans Bay Bushfire Catastrophe December 31 2019

My wife and I were required to put out smoke coming from a spot fire in a tree in my parents rear yard which shows how close the fire came.

Infrastructure was destroyed, power knocked out, we had no idea what was going on. A drive by of the area the next day identified significant losses over town with the fire still burning. The images of Batemans Bay on fire on this day being new years eve / new years day is one of many fire disasters that hit eastern Australia during this time with the South Coast heavily impacted.

Batemans Bay Bushfire Catastrophe December 31 2019

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