Australian news, and some related international items

Massive fires merge across the New South Wales – Victoria border

Southern Highlands blaze flares as two massive fires merge in Snowy Valley  SMH, By Megan GorreyMatt Bungard and Megan Levy

 January 11, 2020 —  Two fires straddling the NSW and Victorian border have merged, creating a 600,000-hectare “mega-fire” south of the Snowy Mountains, as a separate blaze in the Southern Highlands flared to emergency warning level amid dangerous and erratic conditions early on Saturday.

Dry heat, shifting winds and powerful gusts fanned more than 100 blazes devouring drought-parched bushland throughout southern NSW overnight, as the East Ournie Creek and the Dunns Road fire zones came together north of Mount Kosciuszko on Friday evening, near the village of Tooma.

Meantime, the Morton fire in the Southern Highlands near Bundanoon was upgraded to emergency warning level about 1am on Saturday as north and north-westerly winds gave way to a strong southerly change. ……

North and north-westerly winds gave way to a southerly change overnight, which combined with merging fires, provided additional challenges from multiple entry points. Mr Clark said they were “expecting fires to potentially spread in two directions overnight”.

“What we’re really seeing with a number of these fires merging is a number of small fires started by lightning strikes, across the landscape. And as they grow, we see fires merging,”  RFS spokesman Anthony   Clark said.

“It provides a challenge for firefighters as when they merge, it increases the size and opens up more uncontained perimeter.”

Early on Saturday, more than 2500 firefighters were battling 147 blazes in NSW, as the bushfires crisis escalated across four states. More than 60 of those NSW fires were uncontained.

Residents were also fleeing fire fronts tearing through parts of eastern Victoria and Kangaroo Island off South Australia, where crews faced rising winds, bone-dry bushland and blistering temperatures. Also homes in Perth were under threat…….

Winds gusting up to 90km/h swept through the state later in the evening. Temperatures soared past 40 degrees in inland areas, while the RFS warned large blazes in the south-east could spread under worsening conditions, or shoot off embers that might create spot fires.

The blustery conditions were expected to bring mixed fortunes for firefighters overnight – dropping temperatures on the ground while making blazes more unpredictable after dark……

January 11, 2020 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales, Victoria | Leave a comment

New South Wales’ bushfire conditions are getting worse

December 16, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Bushfires crisis in New South Wales, smoke pollution in Sydney, and even New Zealand

NSW ‘living in fear’ as bushfires continue to rage,  SBS, 6 Dec 19, So much of NSW is now alight that smoke from the bushfires is impacting communities across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand, the NSW RFS says.

The NSW bushfire crisis has people “living in fear” with more than 100 blazes burning across the state and Sydney choking on harmful smoke pollution.

Firefighters will have a brief window over the weekend to get on top of the crisis before the weather deteriorates early next week.

The Bureau of Meteorology has painted a grim picture for the coming week, with winds forecast to whip dangerous fire grounds and no rain relief in sight. At one point on Friday there were nine fires burning at an emergency level, including the massive Gospers Mountain blaze, which has merged with neighbouring fire grounds to create a “megafire”.

Smoke from the fires was drifting to New Zealand and affecting communities there, NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said on Friday.

There were 108 fires burning in NSW on Friday afternoon, with 74 of those burning out of control.

Hazardous air pollution readings were recorded in many parts of the state, with emergency departments seeing an increase in presentations for respiratory issues…….

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said residents from the South Coast up the Queensland border are “living in fear”.

“The difference now as we lead into the summer months is previously [bushfires] were pretty much confined to the northern part of NSW but what we are seeing this week is our resources stretched across the entire coastline,” she told reporters……

Fire crews have arrived from interstate as well as New Zealand and Canada, while a team from the US will arrive on Saturday.

Total fire bans will be in place on Saturday for the far north coast, New England, the northern slopes, the greater Hunter, greater Sydney, the central ranges and the nortwestern regions……

December 6, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Huge bushfire North of Sydney, with conditions forecast to worsen

Australia fires: five blazes merge north of Sydney as conditions forecast to worsen, More than 100 bushfires were burning in New South Wales on Friday, more than half of them out of control, Guardian,  Ben Doherty and Helen Davidson, Fri 6 Dec 2019  Five fires burning to the north of Sydney joined up into one huge conflagration on Friday, with out-of-control blazes threatening homes and lives.On a day that brought choking smog to Sydney, the premier of New South Wales said the entire coastline of the state was on fire.

Six people have died, and more than 680 homes have already been lost to bushfires in NSW this fire season, and on Friday more than 100 fires were burning, more than half of them out of control. Eight fires have emergency warnings, which means they pose an immediate risk to lives and property.

The largest fire – a conglomeration of five blazes which have joined up north of Sydney – has burned over 335,000 hectares.

The forecast for coming days is for more hot, dry conditions. Strong winds are likely to continue to fan blazes towards towns and properties.

The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said while fires had been burning across the state for weeks, the sheer scale of the current fire threat was stretching crews’ ability to fight the blazes……..

Sydney has been choked by thick smoke for almost a week.

Hospital emergency departments have seen a 25% increase in people presenting with asthma and breathing problems, and ambulance crews are responding to between 70 and 100 call-outs a day for respiratory conditions, including to school children as young as six.

Some schools across the state have been closed because of the fire risk, while others have kept children inside because of the worsening air quality……

December 6, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Sydney afflicted with smoke, as many fires out of control in New South Wales

December 3, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

More than 160 bush and grass fires are burning across New South Wales

NSW firefighters battle 100 new blazes, Herald Sun, Heather McNab,  27 Nov 19, More than 160 bush and grass fires are burning across NSW after about 100 fresh blazes ignited in a 24-hour period.

The NSW Rural Fire Service on Wednesday evening said 163 fires were burning in NSW with 75 uncontained. There were more than 2200 personnel in the field working to slow the progress of the blazes.

The Bureau of Meteorology said thunderstorms which hit Sydney on Tuesday afternoon and the state’s northeast in the evening had produced large hailstones and damaging winds – while lightning also sparked fresh fires.

“Over the past 24 hours, around 100 new fires kicked off,” the RFS posted on Twitter at 5.30pm on Wednesday.

“Crews will work over coming days to control this large number of fires ahead of forecast elevated fire danger on Saturday,” the agency posted later that evening……..

November 28, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Power bills to fall by $40 as New South Wales Central West becomes wind and solar power hub,

November 28, 2019 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

How are Australian States progressing on renewable energy? South Australia way ahead

South Australia leading the nation in renewable energy,    Samantha Dick

South Australia is shifting to renewable energy faster than any other state or territory.

This is despite the federal government’s “lack of leadership” and continued support for major fossil fuel projects, says the Climate Council.

November 25, 2019 Posted by | energy, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia | Leave a comment

50 bushfires continue to rage across New South Wales

November 18, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Sydney Morning Herald up to date coverage of New South Wales bushfires

New South Wales braces for unprecedented fire danger | ABC News

Message from the Editor: Our bushfire coverage, SMH, By Lisa Davies,

“Catastrophic” is not a word used flippantly. The highest possible level of bushfire danger across NSW has led the Premier Gladys Berejiklian to declare a State of Emergency for the first time in six years.

As a result, the Herald will provide open access to our coverage – meaning that for the duration of this crisis, bushfire stories will be free for all readers…..

the conditions forecast for Sydney, the Hunter region, the Blue Mountains and Central Coast have worsened – similar to those experienced in Victoria on Black Saturday, which saw 173 people killed and thousands of homes lost.

Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the predictions were unprecedented for the greater Sydney area.

“We could not find a time in history … where we saw indices reaching what we now know are catastrophic levels here in the Greater Sydney environment,” he said. “We are talking about something we haven’t experienced before in Sydney in the Greater Sydney environment.”

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has announced 300 schools will be closed and expects the number to rise.

So what does a “catastrophic” fire emergency mean?

It means high winds and extreme heat can cause embers from existing fires to travel more than 20 kilometres ahead of the main firefront, Mr Fitzsimmons explained……..

We will be updating readers live via our blog and at…….

November 11, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Sydney and surroundings – “Catastrophic” fire warning.


How near to Lucas Heights nuclear facility are the fires?

Catastrophic’ fire warning a first for Sydney   RFS raises Sydney fire warning to ‘catastrophic’, SMH  Helen PittLisa VisentinLaura Chung and Lucy Cormack, November 10, 2019
Catastrophic fire danger is forecast for Sydney and its surrounds on Tuesday for the first time, as a statewide total fire ban is enforced today to help contain more than 60 fires across the state.
It’s the first time the NSW Rural Fire Service has issued the maximum level of warning for the city since the introduction of the “catastrophic” alert in 2009 in the wake of the Victorian Black Saturday blazes.
Yet both the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian have refused to be drawn on the contribution of climate change to the fires which have so far killed three, injured at least 35 and destroyed more than 150 homes.
The Sydney region is now drier than before the 2001 Black Christmas fires, as authorities warn more “lives and homes” will be at risk when the mercury soars to 37-38C tomorrow…….

November 11, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Massive bushfires in New South Wales are NOT “part of a normal cycle” – fire-fighting expert.

This is not normal: what’s different about the NSW mega fires, SMH, By Greg Mullins, November 11, 2019 —I write this piece reluctantly, because there are still possible fire victims unaccounted for; people have lost loved ones; and hundreds of families have lost their homes. My heart goes out to them. I don’t want to detract in any way from the vital safety messages that our fire commissioners and Premier will be making about Tuesday’s fire potential.

Everyone needs to heed the fire service warnings to prepare, to have a plan, and to leave early if you’re not properly prepared. Know that the best firefighters in the world – volunteer and paid – will be out in force from NSW agencies and interstate to do battle with the worst that an angry Mother Nature can throw at us. But as we saw on Friday, the sheer scale and ferocity of mega fires can defy even the best efforts.

In the past I’ve have heard some federal politicians dodge the question of the influence of climate change on extreme weather and fires by saying, “It’s terrible that this matter is being raised while the fires are still burning.” But if not now, then when?

“Unprecedented” is a word that we are hearing a lot: from fire chiefs, politicians, and the weather bureau. I have just returned from California where I spoke to fire chiefs still battling unseasonal fires. The same word, “unprecedented”, came up.

Unprecedented dryness; reductions in long-term rainfall; low humidity; high temperatures; wind velocities; fire danger indices; fire spread and ferocity; instances of pyro-convective fires (fire storms – making their own weather); early starts and late finishes to bushfire seasons. An established long-term trend driven by a warming, drying climate. The numbers don’t lie, and the science is clear.

If anyone tells you, “This is part of a normal cycle” or “We’ve had fires like this before”, smile politely and walk away, because they don’t know what they’re talking about..…

November 11, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

New South Wales Labor calls for suspending parliament, as bushfires rage


November 11, 2019 Posted by | New South Wales | Leave a comment

Australia’s out of control bushfires (all along the region where the nuclear lobby wants to put reactors!)

‘Uncharted territory’: Dozens of out of control bushfires burn across New South Wales and Queensland,    Hot, windy conditions are wreaking havoc across New South Wales and Queensland.

Australian firefighters warned they were in “uncharted territory” as they struggled to contain dozens of out-of-control bushfires across the east of the country on Friday.

Around a hundred blazes pockmarked the New South Wales and Queensland countryside, around 19 of them dangerous and uncontained.

“We have never seen this many fires concurrently at emergency warning level,” New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told the ABC. “We are in uncharted territory.”The RFS said on Friday afternoon it received multiple reports of people being trapped in their homes at several locations.

Homes have also been destroyed, the RFS added.

A mayor on New South Wales’ mid-north coast said on Friday the bushfires ripping through the region were “horrifying and horrendous beasts”.

MidCoast Council mayor David West said a fire near Forster threatened a council building on Thursday night.

“It was literally a wall of yellow, horrible, beastly, tormenting flames,” the mayor said.

The mayor was particularly concerned about an out-of-control fire burning near Hillville south of Taree.

November 9, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales, Queensland | Leave a comment

Climate change is bringing more extreme weather events to Sydney and Melbourne

Hail, cyclones and fire: Extreme weather risks on the rise, SMH, By Peter Hannam, November 1, 2019, Sydney and Melbourne will most likely be exposed to more intense hailstorms, tropical cyclones will track further south and bushfire risks will increase in most of Australia as the climate warms, new research shows.The modelling based on a 3 degree temperature rise is contained in a severe weather report to be released on Friday by IAG, the country’s largest general insurer, and the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research.

“Climate change is not just about the future,” the report states. “There is already solid evidence that there have been measurable changes to weather and climate extremes with the [1 degree of] warming to date.”

Changing insurance claims data are among the indications that major damaging hail events for Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne have already been increasing in the past decade……

Insurance and other financial firms have been reassessing their risks to climate change, prodded in part by international groups such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

IAG managing director Peter Harmer said there was “an urgent need for Australia to prepare for and adapt to climate change”.

“[It] is critical there is a co-ordinated national approach from governments, industries and businesses to build more resilient communities and reduce the impact of disasters.”

Executive manager of natural perils at IAG Mark Leplastrier said that, apart from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, communities had two main tools to shape the future risk profile: the tightening of land planning and improving building codes.

“There’s a huge opportunity to adapt,” he said……..

November 2, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales, Victoria | Leave a comment