Sydney has experienced its first complete fire ban in almost three years and several schools along the New South Wales state coast to the south have been closed due to the increased danger of bushfires caused by unusually hot and dry conditions in all the south…
ByThe Associated Press
September 19, 2023, 3:04 am
SYDNEY — Sydney experienced its first complete fire ban in almost three years on Tuesday and several schools along the coast of New South Wales state to the south were closed due to the increased danger of bushfires, caused by unusually hot and dry conditions. throughout the southeast. Australia.
Authorities have predicted the most destructive bushfire season over the coming southern hemisphere summer in Australia’s populous southeast since the catastrophic Black Summer fires of 2019-20 that killed 33 people, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and razed 19 million. hectares (47 million acres).
A complete fire ban has been declared in the Greater Sydney area and southern coastal communities. It is the first such declaration for Sydney, Australia’s most populous city after Melbourne, since late November 2020.
Sydney on Tuesday equaled its September high temperature record of 34.6 degrees Celsius (94.3 degrees Fahrenheit). The Australian Bureau of Meteorology described it as an unusually warm start to spring for much of southeastern Australia.
“We’re in this stretch of very, very warm weather that hasn’t been seen in many, many years,” said the bureau’s senior meteorologist, Miriam Bradbury.
Authorities said 61 bushfires were burning in Australia’s most populous state on Tuesday, with 13 of them out of control.
Authorities declared a “catastrophic” fire danger along the New South Wales south coast, the highest level of danger in a five-tier rating system.
“The problem is that when we are faced with fires with a ‘catastrophic’ fire danger rating, we don’t have much time to control and contain them, and once they take hold we won’t be able to put them out. Rural Fire Service Commissioner Rob Rogers said.
“We need to warn the community that the risk has increased and make sure people focus on preserving life on a day like today,” he added.
State education officials said 20 schools in South Coast communities closed Tuesday because of the fire danger they were exposed to.
The Bureau of Meteorology on Tuesday declared an El Niño weather pattern, which is associated with warmer, drier conditions across Australia’s east coast, after three successive La Niña events brought milder, wetter conditions. The World Meteorological Organization declared the onset of El Niño in July.
“In all likelihood, we can expect this summer to be hotter than average and certainly hotter than the last three years,” said bureau director Karl Braganza.