TAS: Extraordinarily high winds with front
The seemingly innocuous cold front shown just east of TAS on the surface chart above packed exceptionally strong winds. The highest wind gusts were recorded in the westerlies just after the front, and included an extraordinary 156km/h at Maatsuyker Island, 146 at Scotts Peak Dam on Lake Pedder and 126 at Hartz Mountain, 30km SW of Geeveston. High wind gusts were widespread. In the southeast, Mt Wellington recorded 122km/h, Cape Bruny 106, Tasman Island 104, Tunnack 94 and Hobart Airport 93. In the west, Mt Read recorded 117 and Strahan 96; and in the north Cape Grim 117, Low Head 104, Eddystone Point and Luncheon Hill 102, Flinders Island 94, and Wynyard and Sheffield 93. Conditions in Bass Strait were pretty wild, too, with Hogan Island gusting to 119km/h, Wilsons Promontory 108 and the Kingfisher B oil rig 98km/h.
Little wonder that the observer on Maatsuyker Island, which juts steeply 150m out of the Southern Ocean off Tasmania's South Coast, reported during the day that it was "raining uphill".
Three men, one injured, were rescued by helicopter from a yacht disabled by an engine fire about 50km east of Flinders Island. They called for assistance at 4.30pm today, but 3 to 5m seas and gale force winds delayed rescue until shortly after dawn on Tuesday.
NSW, VIC: Widespread small fires flare as hot weather returns
Numerous small bushfires kept the NSW Fire Brigades and Rural Fire Service busy today. Temperatures reached into the low to mid 30s along the Central and South Coasts, with Sydney recording 33.9 (11.9 above average) and Narooma 31.5 (+12.1). Dry, fresh northwesterly winds saw 3pm humidities reach as low as 12% at Williamtown and Sydney Airport.
Bushfires threatened homes in Cardiff and Macquarie Hills (10km W of Newcastle) and a mining complex at Boolaroo in the same area but were kept under control by around 100 firefighters. Farther west, a fire burnt through 75 hectares near Kearsley, just SE of Cessnock. Elsewhere in the state, fires were reported west of Mogo on the South Coast (about 180ha), in Middle Brother National Park north of Taree (about 160ha) and near Higher Macdonald north of Wisemans Ferry (about 370ha) with small fires at Capertee north of Lithgow and Corindi north of Coffs Harbour.
In VIC, strong winds accompanied a cold front that crossed the Gippsland area late morning, preceded by very warm conditions. Grassfires broke out at Wurruk, just west of Sale, and on the nearby Latrobe River floodplain.