Christmas Bells

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Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, December 14, 2006

More on the Bushfires

More on the bushfires - in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

Dargo Firefighter Kelvin White is nearly engulfed in flames. Photo: Eddie Jim. See story: The Age.

News Limited (not a source I usually recommend) has a nifty little interactive map, with dots for particular fires, which are clickable, which open up with the latest text report on the particular fire you are looking at. Try it.

If that does not work, go to their website, and click on "Interactive Map" under the bushfire stories.

The Tumut fire which was burning in the Bondo Pine Plantation has now spread to the bush (Eucalypt forest) north east of Tumut. Canberra residents are very nervous about this fire, which is still a long way from Canberra, because this is in the same direction as the horrendous fires of January 2003 which burnt right into Canberra, in a single afternoon, in a wind-assisted fireball. What no-one is saying to the Canberra residents is that there is relatively little fuel left, west of Canberra because there has been very little regrowth since those fires, because of the drought.

The Canberra fires were powered by a huge amount of dry forest, 40+ degree temperatures, 4% humidity, and wind estimated at 120 plus Km/h. That is equivalent of standing in front of a huge hair drier, with a lighted newspaper in your hands. Of course everything will burn.

Our weather has been mercifully kind to us this week, even in Victoria and Tasmania. It is only a matter of time till those kinds of weather conditions return.

Thomson Dam in smoke
Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

As a cruel irony, Victorian authorities are worried that the fires from Mt terrible will burn right into the main catchment of the Thomson Dam. That would cause them to close the dam to water supply use, for up to 3 months, owing to soot and ash contamination. This at a time of unprecedented drought.

Only serious rain, spread across the entire south-east of the continent can put these fires out. Start praying, as no rain of any significance is forecast.

Here is a link to the updated south-east Australia fire map from


Colin said...

The news worsens by the day - it's shaping up to be a terrible fire season by the look of it.

Denis Wilson said...

Welcome back, Colin.
Yes, I agree. These areas are not expected to burn until January or February - which means there are months more fire season this year than normal.
What will it be like by February, when it gets really hot?