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Time Of Year: Tempests And Fires

  • January 21st, 2013
  • Posted by 7thmin

bushfire-canberra.jpgIn the middle of the time of year for dangerous weather, both North and South are facing a difficult week.

heathrow-storms-2013.jpgEurope has a mounting toll of lives lost in the extreme cold conditions; Australia is standing-by for more heat wave conditions generating the bushfires, and now cyclones off the Northern coasts.


The loss of life in Europe has been attributed to impacts of general disruption from below-zero temperatures, heavy snow-falls and storms: six dead in car crashes in France, four climbers lost in an avalanche in Scotland, and two men killed when a brick structure collapsed in Spain during storms.

airport-heathrow-storm.jpgIn direct impacts, thousands of people have been camping out inside air terminals (picture) as the weather has caused cancellation of flights; 20% of flights at Heathrow Airport, 40% at Paris-Charles de Gaulle, and several high-speed rail services on the Paris-London Eurostar.


bushfire-truck.jpgMassive bushfires have been brought on by protracted heat waves across much of Australia since the New Year; just over a week ago meteorologists identified an elevated mass of hot air covering central parts of the continent, bringing near-unprecedented temperatures to the Centre, upwards of 50-degrees

bushfire-esaactgov.jpgLarge emergency forces have been deployed, and rotated around the country, including 100 aircraft mobilised for some of the bigger fires, for reconnaissance, transport and water-bombing operations.

However by the weekend fatigue had become a key problem, with fire-fighters briefly stood down between the last run of severe temperatures and the next, possible in the coming days.

Violent storms dumped heavy rains in inland South-east Queensland, similar to the devastating flood rains there early in  2011.

To the South, in Victoria, two large bushfires each ranging over 50 000 hectares were continuing to defy efforts to get them under control; another was persisting on the same scale in North-western New South Wales.

An elderly man died as his car burnt out in Victoria (18.1.13); a Victorian fire-fighter died while deployed in Tasmania (13.1.13), the immediate cause of death not known.


weather-sat-21113.jpgWhile current temperature forecasts are limited to maximums in the low 30-degrees range in most regions, the national Bureau of Meteorology is maintaining a close watch, particularly on low pressure zones off-shore, threatening a new cyclone season.

Weekend statement from the Bureau of Meteorology (18.1.13):

“The Bureau of Meteorology  is monitoring the development of weather systems that could lead to a continuation of severe fire weather conditions and potentially the development of two tropical cyclones in the monsoon trough over the weekend and into next week.

“Assistant Director of Weather Services, Alasdair Hainsworth, says it is early days yet, but as people may have noticed on the Bureau’s seven day computer-generated charts, there is the possibility of tropical cyclones developing in the Gulf of Carpentaria during the weekend and off Western Australia’s Kimberley coast …

“He said both systems had the potential to bring gale to storm force winds and heavy rain to nearby coastal communities. They may last for several days leading into the Australia Day long weekend (25-27.1.13).

“Mr Hainsworth said that ‘during this time southern Australia would also experience challenging weather conditions with the potential development of further serious fire weather conditions in parts of South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales.

҉۪As we know, there are serious fires still burning in these states and the coming week will continue to provide a challenge to emergency services even before the severe conditions arrive.

“Today Sydney, Canberra and other NSW centres experienced extreme temperatures with records being set for Sydney at Observatory Hill (45.8°C); Sydney Airport (46.4°); Canberra (41.6°); and a range of other communities along the coast from Bega (44.6°) to Williamtown (44.8°). The highest temperature recorded in the Greater Sydney Area was 46.5° at Penrith.’”


Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, “Severe weather watch for next week”, 18.1.13., (21.1.13).

TV NZ, Auckland, “London and Paris cancel flights as snow blankets Europe”, 21.1.13., (21.1.13).

Grant Smith, “Europe Airports Curb Flights as Snow Sweeps Across Continent”, Bloomberg, NY, 21.1.13., (21.1.13).


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