[Vision2020] 12-20-19 "Sydney Braces for ‘Catastrophic’ Fire Danger Amid Record Heat"

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Fri Dec 20 16:02:51 PST 2019

Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett


Sydney Braces for ‘Catastrophic’ Fire Danger Amid Record HeatBy
Matthew Brockett
December 20, 2019, 2:42 PM PST

Australian authorities warned of “catastrophic” fire conditions in greater
Sydney Saturday as more than 100 blazes burn across the state and a record
heatwave continues.

New South Wales, Australia’s most-populous state, has declared an emergency
as the heatwave that’s produced the hottest day on record exacerbates
devastating bushfires. Today’s catastrophic warning, the highest level of
danger, means fires could spread rapidly and will be extremely difficult to
control. It is the second such warning for greater Sydney this season.

“We are expecting another very dangerous, another very difficult day today
given the widespread geographic area of catastrophic fire danger ratings,”
New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told a
news conference. “Catastrophic fire danger is as bad as it gets.”

The crisis could lead to road closures and diversions, potentially
disrupting Christmas travel plans for thousands of Sydneysiders pouring out
of the city for a summer break along the coast. Prime Minister Scott
Morrison yesterday said he would cut short his vacation in Hawaii and
taking leave while the wildfires ravage Australia, reflecting the political
pressure building on his government that denies the blazes are linked to
climate change.

In New South Wales alone, eight people have been killed, more than 6
million acres -- an area the size of Massachusetts -- have been burnt out
and 800 houses destroyed since the fire season started unusually early this
year. Fires are also raging in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland.

On Wednesday, the average maximum temperature across Australia reached 41.9
degrees Celsius (107.4 degrees Fahrenheit), surpassing the record 40.9
Celsius set a day earlier, according to the weather bureau. On Thursday it
reached 41 Celsius, meaning those three days were the three hottest ever
recorded. A temperature of 36 Celsius is forecast for Sydney today.
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