Widespread rainfall is expected to bring some relief to Australia, which is going through one of its worst bushfire periods on record, but weather scientists say it’s soon to relax because another natural disaster may occur soon.
Tropical Cyclone Claudia is forecast to come with up to 100mm of rain falling across Australia’s east coast from Wednesday night till the weekend.
Meteorologists say that more than 50mm of rain is required to slow down a large fire – and 10mm could be just enough to extinguish one.
“Hopefully some of this heavy rainfall will fall over fire sites and help control or even extinguish fires,” said meteorologist Sarah Scully.
“But it’s a bit of a double-edged sword because heavy rainfall and gusty thunderstorms bring the potential for flash flooding, particularly in the burnt-out areas of [New South Wales] and Victoria which are now vulnerable to land slips and trees coming down.”
Australia’s national weather forecaster has issued severe thunderstorm warnings for parts of the states of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, as well as road weather alerts for Victoria and Tasmania.
Since September, Australia has been grappling with devastating bushfires that scorched an area the size of South Korea.
They have claimed 28 lives, with 20 of those deaths reported in NSW, and destroyed or damaged over 2,200 houses. They have also either killed or displaced around one billion animals – that’s according to what the University of Sydney called “highly conservative estimates”.
There are reportedly more than 100 fires still burning in New South Wales on Wednesday.
There has been no scientific consensus on what was behind the unusual severity of this year’s crisis.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology blamed the ongoing crisis on the rising temperature in parts of the Indian Ocean and above Antarctica, combined with climate change.
Australia saw its hottest-ever day on 18 December, with the average maximum temperature reaching 41.9C – 1C above the previous record set the previous day.