AUS: Duststorms and bushfires as widespread heat returns
Strong north to northwesterly winds squeezed between a strong Tasman Sea high
and a frontal/trough system advancing across SA set further April heat records
in the NT, SA, VIC and TAS today. Duststorms were whipped up by the passage
of the trough over the lower Eyre Peninsula in SA, while bushfires flared in
both SA and VIC.
Overnight minima were between 6 and 12° above average across large areas
in all states/territories except the ACT and TAS. At Port Pirie SA the minimum
of 25.0 was 12 above. Maximum temperatures exceeded normal by 8° in every
state and territory, with the greatest departures in southern SA and VIC. Ceduna
SA with a 64-year climate history broke the April heat record it set on 1 April
this month with a new high of 40.8, 16.8 above normal. Adelaide (Kent
Town), Parafield, Elliston and Coonawarra in SA, Mt Wellington in TAS and Tennant
Creek in NT
all equalled or exceeded April records set at the beginning of the month.
Mt Gambier's top of 35.0 was its highest April maximum in 64 years, and Elliott
in the NT
Casterton, Portland, Weeaproinah and Wonthaggi in VIC all set new April highs.
The lower Eyre Peninsula in SA experienced its second severe duststorm in
a week (see 2 APR) with police saying visibility
was close to zero on the Tumby to Port Lincoln road. Wind gusting to 78km/h
at both Cleve and Port Lincoln Airports mid morning raised
area burnt clear of vegetation during the 11 JAN bushfires,
but there was no repetition of the widespread dust of 2 April.
In VIC, a major fire erupted soon after midday from a controlled burn in the
Dunmore State Forest, 30km NE of Portland on the West Coast. The bushfire covered
8km in 4 hours during the afternoon with temperatures in the low 30s and wind
gusting to 60km/h. Spot fires occurred up to 2.5km ahead of the main
front, and 1100 hectares of state forest, 460ha of bluegum plantation
and 120ha of private land had been burnt
dusk when the fire had a 30km perimeter. The Princes Highway and parallel Heywood-Woolsthorpe
Road were closed during the evening. The settlement of Tyrendarra to the south
was evacuated, and fears were held for
change fan the flames in that direction. However winds dropped during the
evening allowing containment work and mopping up to begin. Four aircraft, 50
and 100 firefighters were engaged by the fire.
The Dunmore fire followed a fire at Rocky Den, 50km NW of Portland.
It was started by lightning on Friday and burnt through 340ha of plantation
and private land before being brought under control earlier today. Six aircraft
and nearly 200 firefighters continued containment work on the Wilsons Promontory
National Park fire which had burnt through 6,127ha or 14% of the park by today.
In SA, two fires burnt through over 300ha of crops, grass and scrub at Mt
Drummond and Lake Malata, 70km NW of Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula. The
rekindled from permit burn-offs lit on Friday.
|QLD rainfall for the 24 hours to 9am. BoM
QLD: Heavy coastal showers
Significant rain continued to fall from showers and isolated thunderstorms
along the length of the QLD east coast overnight, following over two months
of unseasonably dry weather. Moist, unstable southeasterlies, freshened by
a strong ridge from the slow-moving Tasman Sea high, gave 24-hour to 9am totals
of 50 to over 100mm on the North Coast Herbert, with widespread falls of 25
to 80mm on the Central coast around Mackay and north of Rockhampton. Tully
recorded the top fall of 119.2mm, while Samuel Hill recorded 81.0 and Mackay
Aero 77.0mm. An upper trough also gave an area of 10 to 50mm rain in the southeast
nearly to Springsure. Wyseby, 100km SSE of Springsure, recorded 55.0mm and
Gin Gin, 40km W of Bundaberg, 51.0.
drought area expands
Figures issued by the NSW Department of Primary Industries today showed the
area of declared drought in the state had expanded to 76% in March, up from
68% in February. 15% was in a marginal condition (14%) and only 9% was satisfactory
(18%). The changes followed a drier than average March, when rain generally
across the state was the least for six months. Summer crops have been hard
hit, with rice production expected to be down 30%. The dry conditions have
also delayed winter crop plantings.