Bushfires, cyclone and torrential rain hit Australia’s coasts

LONG, HARD ROAD: Rural fire service firefighter Trevor Stewart in Australia.
LONG, HARD ROAD: Rural fire service firefighter Trevor Stewart in Australia.

Severe bushfires burnt through parts of Western Australia on Sunday, with other areas of the state dealing with the aftermath of a powerful cyclone, while the country’s east coast was facing potential life-threatening flash flooding.

After months of destructive wildfires that have razed millions of hectares of land, Australia has been hit in recent weeks by wild weather that has alternately brought heavy downpours, hail storms, gusting winds, and hot and dry air.

About 12 fires were burning in Western Australia (WA) yesterday, with severe fire danger expected in several districts, according to fire services and the state’s bureau of meteorology.

Daytime temperatures in some of the districts were forecast at up to 42°C.

The state’s upper parts were battling the aftermath of tropical cyclone Damien that made landfall on Saturday afternoon, bringing winds of up to 200km/h. 

No immediate damage was reported and the cyclone was expected to weaken as it moved inland, but winds were seen to blow at more than 100km/h.

“Though Tropical #CycloneDamien has weakened significantly from the thrashing it gave Karratha and Dampier, areas around Tom Price and Paraburdoo are receiving significant rainfall and squally conditions,” the bureau of meteorology said on Twitter.

On the opposite coast of Australia, Sydney and the state of New South Wales were in danger of potential life-threatening flash flooding as rain bucketed down for a third day in a row in downpours not seen since 1998.

Rainfall in some parts of the state approached half the annual average, but the falls were welcomed after the state saw its driest year on record last year, at 55% below average.

The weather office said there was potential for heavy “rainfall and life-threatening flash-flooding” and coast erosion, though little danger of river flooding as water levels have been low due to a persistent drought.

In Queensland, meteorologists also warned of flash and river flooding yesterday, following heavy falls overnight.

An emergency flood alert was issued for residents of Dalby due to a creek overflowing, about 200km west of Brisbane. — Reuters

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