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Author Topic: Drought, Fires, and Smoke  (Read 1360 times)

Peter Fitness

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Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« on: November 11, 2019, 10:04:40 PM »

Eastern Australia is in the grip of one of the worst droughts in living memory and, to add insult to injury, over 130 bush fires are burning in NSW and Queensland. Nearly one million acres of bush have been burnt, at least 130 homes destroyed, but worst of all, three people have died in the fires.


While we are not directly threatened by fire, thick smoke has blanketed this area for the last four or five days, and people with respiratory conditions are affected. The nearest fire to us is about 35 km away in a straight line, and this is the one creating the most smoke in our area. Once fires get a hold in thick bush there is very little to be done to control them, despite the best efforts of fire fighters and water bombers. All that can be done is to attempt to contain them. We are told that today will be the worst, with the fire warning level at catastrophic for many districts, including some areas of Sydney. The firefighters have been doing an absolutely incredible job, but many have reached exhaustion point, they are only human after all, and badly need rest. Relief crews from other states are being brought in, and there's even talk of crews from the USA and Canada coming over to help. One very big concern is that there's no rain forecast for the near future, and humidity is below 10%.


I've attached some photos, two are of the same jacaranda tree on our farm taken almost exactly two years apart. In 2017 the skies are blue and the grass is green, whereas this year's shows only dead grass and smoky skies. The other two shots are taken from just above our house and stockyards, where the eerie light and smoke can be clearly seen.


Peter.
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2019, 10:13:09 PM »

Your fires are very much in the headlines over here Peter. Just at the same time when the North of England has jut experienced very severe flooding.

Colin
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Footski

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2019, 07:52:49 AM »

You take care of yourself and family Peter. My thoughts are with you.....horrible experience for you all.
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Ianlind

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2019, 07:57:50 AM »

G'day Peter,


Wouldn't be having those trees anywhere near my house!


That's one of the reasons so many homes burn, as they have the bush right up to their walls, and in Australia, the bush burns on a regular basis.


Ian.
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Footski

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2019, 07:39:04 AM »

Peter, you still out there? Hope all is well with you and yours!
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BrianB6

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2019, 09:49:18 AM »

Bushfires and hail in Queensland today.  <:(
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Ianlind

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2019, 10:50:21 AM »

G'day Brian,


How typically Australian!


Ian.
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Peter Fitness

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2019, 10:12:03 PM »

Peter, you still out there? Hope all is well with you and yours!


Yes Barry, we're still here, thank you for asking. There are no fires threatening us but the smoke is awful, especially in the morning before the breeze picks up. Ironically, the fire fighters don't want wind as it fans the flames. People with respiratory conditions are being affected, including my wife who is an asthmatic.


Most of the fires are in National Parks, and much of the terrain is inaccessible to land based assets, so water bombers are the mainstay of the attempts to contain the fires. Containment has been the focus as it's impossible to extinguish a fire in thick bush, so it's better to concentrate on establishing perimeters around threatened villages. However, despite the valiant efforts of the fire fighters, several hundred houses have been lost, most of which were in the bushland with inadequate surrounding clear areas. The toll on wildlife has been enormous, particularly among koala colonies, as koalas are not mobile enough to get ahead of the fires. I have never seen anything like the current situation, we get bushfires every year, but not on this scale, and not so early - it's not even summer yet. Another depressing thought is that no significant rain is predicted for months.


Peter.
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Footski

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2019, 07:33:09 AM »

Peter,
My thoughts are with you. Down here in southern Spain, we also have the risk of fires. We are lucky in that the brush is not too large, so I have cleared an area around my land to hopefully protect the house in case it goes up during the summer.
Best wishes or you and your family Peter.
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Peter Fitness

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2020, 06:37:09 AM »

I thought the fires in our area were bad enough, but they were nowhere nearly as bad as those in southern NSW and Victoria. In NSW the statistics are staggering, 3.5 million hectares, or about 8.5 million acres are burnt out, nearly 1000 houses destroyed, but worst of all at least 15 people are confirmed dead, killed by the fires. The video footage shown on TV news bulletins are like scenes from hell, itís absolutely horrifying. One volunteer firefighter was killed when his 8 tonne fire truck was picked up and flipped over by a tornado created by by the superheated air caused by the inferno. To me itís almost incomprehensible, but itís happening, and it could get worse. The small town of Cobargo, population around 800, about 390 km south of Sydney, has been almost wiped out. Shops, commercial buildings and houses have been destroyed, and two people have been killed, horrible.


The south coast fires are about 1000 km from us, we in north east NSW are being spared from further fires at present, the weather here is normal summer, low to mid 30s and quite humid, plus all fires in our area are under control. However, if we were to return to extreme heat and low humidity, they could start up again.


Peter.
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BrianB6

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2020, 09:23:02 AM »

What annoys me is that the holiday makers refused police and fire service advice to leave the area.  Now they have to be rescued by the navy and air force.  <*<
We have friends just outside the fire area and they are ready to leave at a moments notice.  it's their home not just a caravan or tent that could be moved easily.
We have valuables in boxes ready for the car and other important things and one of my boats is already with our son so even if I lose the others at least one will be safe.
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roycv

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2020, 10:17:39 AM »

Hello Peter, I shall be visiting Woy Woy in a week's time not what I was expecting when I booked my flight.  Andrew tells me that he has occasional smoke 1 day in 5 and I have been monitoring the progress of the fires on a daily basis via the web site.

http://google.org/crisismap/australia


Anyone wanting to pin point my destination look along coast above Sydney midway to Newcstle.  Look for Umina Beech in detail and there is a fine white line across the blue water and this is the Rip Bridge and I am in sight of this to my left when looking across the water (Booker Bay).  OO-my-nah beech is a beautiful curved sandy beech which is almost deserted weekdays, just walking in the surf is almost perfect.  Other beeches are more popular but this is the one for me, it is a 25 minute cycle ride from where I am staying in Booker Bay Road.

I wish all you guys in Australia an end to the fires in this New decade and hope nature manages to revitalise the damage and that forest management will take all this into account so that there is no repeat of this catasthophe in the future.
I am little surprised there is not a more global response to the fires, but perhaps I have that wrong.  With just 25 million population the cost and repair is an enormous burden on Australian citizens.  I understand water is now getting in short supply, I was always careful in that regard and after a shower you barely have to dry yourself the air is so dry.

Swimming is just a short walk out across the small garden and into the water, there is a lot of wildlife with several small fleets of Mallard ducks, Pelicans and a kookaburra, mynor birds parakeets and last year a pair of nesting sea eagles with wedge tailed kites on the wing.  The tide comes in from the right so the advice for swimming is to wait until slack tide and swim out against the tide, makes for a safer swim return.  The fisherman and their small boats are in mid stream drifting back and forth with the tide, and I can recommend Flathead and chips as served a couple of miles down the road.

The leisure craft and sail boats go past on the tide, a carefully timed trip for the larger yachts to negotiate the complex channel and get over the sand bar which takes over half an hour to get out to the sea proper.  A few hours south down the coast is the Hawkesbury River with a wide estuary and free mooring points in the middle of a National Forest which I hope is still there.  To wake up in the morning here in total silence with the smell of eggs and bacon cooking is a total pleasure.

There is a railway station there and so my d-i-law can spend the weekend on the yacht and go straight off to work in Gosford on the Monday morning.  For her it is such a different life cycle she was once in a small flat with an hour commute to work in a busy city probably getting home late and having all to do before it started again the next day, here she has a 4 day (10 hours) week with a long weekend.

My son has been there 11 years now and is reluctant to move away, and as he works at home, and spare time is taken up maintaining the house and chores, and now with of course a quite extensive model railway in the back of the garage, this is now a 'Local Area Network' so can be run from his phone.
Their yacht is moored a few 100 yards away and that needs regular attention as well.  On another thread on charging multiple batteries someone kindly put up a web site on methods and I copied this across and now Andrew has re-wired the charging system on his boat to be a more effective one.
 

A 5 week holiday there for me goes all too quickly, Exercise is in the morning (cycle to the beech and walk in the sand) which works out well as my son is usually working then. I felt that I must not expect to be waited on, so I muck in with cooking and do a few meals myself and we go out shopping as I know the area quite well now.  I still have to be shown how the automatic coffee machine works and the 3D TV which is wired into work off a smart phone if necessay but usually off an iPad.  But there again I have some books with me anyway.
So I shall be packing over the weekend and starting my journey Tuesday evening of nearly 23 hours with a 90 minute stop over in Singapore.  With the adverse winds on the return journey it takes an hour longer to get back.
Kind regards
Roy[


 
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Peter Fitness

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2020, 10:34:23 PM »

Roy, you won't need any cold weather gear for your visit, the temperatures are forecast to be in the high 30s to low 40s in the southern part of NSW. The Central Coast may not be too bad, but it will still be hot and dry. The Central Coast of NSW is a beautiful part of the country, as I'm sure you know, we have friends in Saratoga, right on the Brisbane Water.


Brian, you are absolutely correct about the tourists in the South Coast fire areas, they were given plenty of warnings to evacuate but many chose to ignore them, and are now having to be rescued.


The smoke from the southern NSW and Victorian fires has reached New Zealand, 1200 miles away, and has discoloured the Tasman and Fox glaciers with ash. The smoke also greatly reduced visibility there, and residents of Christchurch noticed a burnt smell.


Peter.
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derekwarner

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2020, 10:50:32 PM »


Have posted this yesterday under the New Year thread, but more appropriate here.......
Not quite so happy here at the moment ........

Latest message just now from second Daughter 10 minutes ago .....just South of Nowra on the Eastern seaboard of NSW.....she has been evacuated  from her home......with Husband, kids & pets ..thankfully all OK


Their home is in a small Hamlet just by the water in an arm of St Georges Basin around from Jervis Bay..........this coming Saturday 4th January is the latest predicted catastrophic fire day

"thanks dad we are going to stay on a hotel. Jai is helping people on his boat bringing them here from Sussex and taking ice and water across atm"


This video from the South Coast is not a mockup

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/video/2019/dec/31/australian-firefighters-capture-moment-truck-overrun-bushfire-video

[Sounds like Son in Law is taking people one way, then ice & water 6.5 miles back across the Basin from B to A]
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Derek Warner

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BrianB6

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2020, 11:11:25 PM »


The smoke from the southern NSW and Victorian fires has reached New Zealand, 1200 miles away, and has discoloured the Tasman and Fox glaciers with ash. The smoke also greatly reduced visibility there, and residents of Christchurch noticed a burnt smell.


Peter.
The B.o.M. satellite clearly shows the smoke plume reaching New Zealand in the right hand corner of the photo.   The white clouds just north of the smoke are generated by the fires in N.S.W. which now have their own weather
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BrianB6

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2020, 01:16:12 AM »

3 hours later. :o
I can just imagine all those Kiwi's standing on the shore blowing the smoke back to Oz.   It has reversed course and has reached Melbourne.  >>:-(
Cough, cough
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Peter Fitness

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2020, 03:40:29 AM »

Derek, I saw that footage on last nightís news. The most amazing thing is that all the firefighters involved survived without injury. They were members of the NSW Fire Service, as opposed to the volunteer Rural Fire Service (RFS), and parts of their fire truck were melted by the fierce heat. Apparently their were several trucks in a convoy and all escaped, thankfully. I canít begin to imagine what it would be like to be in that situation.


Peter.
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Jerry C

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2020, 07:26:27 AM »

Hi Derek, I used to have a penfriend on River Road, Sussex Inlet.
Weíre on an Alert State here in Canberra, cars fuelled up, grab bags ready. Itís just smoke here but the figures theyíre putting out about air quality seem a bit over the top. Iíve been for a bike ride today and suffered no ill effects.

Jerry.

BrianB6

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2020, 08:01:54 AM »

Just remember that wood smoke has the same carcinogens as cigarettes but in different ratios  :police:
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BrianB6

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2020, 11:01:33 PM »

Please  STOP praying for rain to put out the bushfires.   There are now floods in Queensland and Sydney.
The first sail day I could have attended in 4 months, will probably be washed out as well.  <:(
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Jerry C

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #20 on: January 17, 2020, 11:27:28 PM »

My son in law in Melbourne doing the 505 Aussie Nationals.  Two boats broke masts in the invitation race yesterday. Had heavy rain in Canberra for a short time, enough for strong flows in the drainage channels but probably only raised the lakes a mm..
Jerry.

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2020, 11:45:40 PM »

Never rains but it pours eh?

I'm sorry for your wildlife.  Was watching vids on youtube purely because they popped up saying not to pour water down a koalas neck but let it lap it up downward.  You might say "pff" but I've never thought that human is the most intelligent or supreme being in this world.  It's just the most dominant.

...Bit difficult to watch anything remotely from here of what is happening over there with any meaningful words.  It must be a total nightmare.

I would expect rain to be worse for you.  It will just wash out everywhere after?
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Peter Fitness

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2020, 05:02:10 AM »

We had 150 mm (6 inches) of very welcome rain last night and this morning, registered at the Lismore Airport Automatic Weather Station. 40 km away on the coast near Ballina, where we are currently in our caravan, we had 76 mm. Our farm, near Lismore, has very little grass, and all the cattle are being hand fed, but assuming we get some warm weather, which is almost certain, the land should respond quite quickly. The weather pattern has changed to a normal January/February one with high humidity, so hopefully, for us at least, the worst of the drought is behind us. Time will tell.


Peter.
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Ianlind

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2020, 05:59:44 AM »

Only about 20mm here so far, so pretty much as good as useless!


Ian.
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Footski

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Re: Drought, Fires, and Smoke
« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2020, 06:53:14 AM »

Delighted the rain has finally come for you Peter. We badly need it down here in southern Spain. No fires, but little water in the reservoirs....
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