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message 1: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5791 comments I'm wondering about how the fires are affecting people in Australia. What's happening on the ground there? We in the U.S. are concerned and hoping for relief in the form of rain and lower temps. Can you give us an update, Leonie? Here's the site showing where the fires are:

message 2: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan In Melbourne - it's smoky. Lots of smoke for days and days. Apart from that life goes on.

message 3: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments We're in a funny kind of place right now, Scout. There are still many, many fires burning, but the weather has been a little kinder recently.

In rural NSW, we're all holding our breath and hoping that Thursday will see the beginning of one of the first significant rain events for about three years. Here, we've had a smoke free day. (Sort of - it's not smelling smokey, or perhaps we've had so much smoke that I've stopped smelling it as strongly.) It's been pretty clear, too. On Saturday, however, we had a tiny bit of dripping drizzle. It was a mixture of smoke and dirt and water.

One of our biggest issues is that the drought has been so dreadful that there is little moisture anywhere. Where we are, the ground is developing cracks, and peoples' houses are also cracking as a result. Friends' dams are empty and they are constantly having to cart water for livestock, and if they aren't on town water themselves, for drinking and washing. Some have seen their last water go to fight fires.

Some of our farmers have now not only lost stock and crops to drought, but they've been burnt out too. There is a huge sense of sadness and anger.

Our closest major fire is 20-40km away. My husband and I look at he town common (we live opposite) every hot day and marvel that it's still there. It's incredibly dry, and hasn't burnt in the fifteen years we've been living opposite.

Very fortunately, whenever the wind and heat have been at their worst, things have been OK. BUT things are so dry that it would not take much for this to turn into what we saw on New Year's Eve. And of course it only takes a carelessly dropped cigarette butt, a lightning strike, or a motor vehicle accident (basically anything with a spark) and we have a new fire.

A friend's property is forecast to be immediately under threat in two weeks. That might sound odd, but the scale of the Kerry's Ridge Fire, and the country that it's in makes it impossible to extinguish, so that unless we have a really big rain event, it will just burn its way steadily to the ridge above their most southern boundary. At the moment, the RFS is putting in containment lines, and hoping that the weather is appropriate so that when it hits that ridge, they'll be able to back burn up the hill to the fire, and keep the property safe, while controlling the spread a little. Weather permitting, this will happen.

One of the issues has been lightning. We've had some isolated thunderstorms, but they haven't dropped enough rain on drought dry country to stop the lightning starting new blazes. One being the Spring Gully Fire near Martindale for example. That one is near another set of friends.

The news this morning commented that 100% of NSW is currently in drought. 809,444 square km. For comparison Texas is only 695,662 km².

We are all hoping, but weather is a very fickle thing.

The political situation has not helped. Rural Australia is angry. Probably more angry than I've ever seen, no matter their political persuasion. Politicians have voiced platitudes, and used the situation to further their own agendas, sometimes in the face of all evidence.

Our Rural Fire Service is almost entirely made up of volunteers, many of whom have had to take time from work to fight fires - often unpaid. We've now seen four of them die. This is hard for any community, and rural communities are generally pretty close knit, and everyone knows someone in that kind of situation. We're fortunate here. All the firies we know are safe.

When I chat to people at work (I'm a physiotherapist), the topic inevitably turns to drought/fire/rain. The next topic is 'Are all your friends and family safe?' The answers vary:
"My friend had to get choppered out from the fire front."
"I knew the two people who died on the north coast."
"Everyone's OK, but Uncle Bob's farm is..."
"I was out on the truck putting in breaks..."
"I've been down the Putty for the last few days in the truck..."
"We're a strike team on the weekend, and we'll be stationed at..."

You can probably see the picture. Although the smoke has impacted the cities, and in the case of Western Sydney, the edge of Sydney, I don't think a lot of people realise the follow on stuff that will happen in the next few months.

Due to the drought, a lot of the farmers I know were down to, or selling their breeding stock. This is a pattern all over rural Eastern Australia. Many have now also been burnt out. They have no more stock. Prices of meat have stayed normal due to the amount of stock sold due to the drought. But when stock levels are as low as they are now, and then impacted by fire, I believe that prices of meat in particular will be significantly affected.

Then there's the summer tourist revenue that tiny towns rely upon, and are unable this year to take. No tourists. No town. If you're on facebook, there's a page you might like to follow. It's a drought page, but it shows the face of drought very starkly. It's called 'One Day Closer to Rain.

Another is the One Day Closer to Rain Rural Cottage Crafts page. It was set up to assist drought areas to advertise their crafts and sidelines, so that some families might be able to have a stream of income in drought affected areas. Many of these communities are now fire affected.

message 4: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments Sorry about the long post.

message 5: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10730 comments Don't be sorry, Leonie. It was very informative. The situation is obviously extremely dire. I just hope you get rain like I saw when I left Australia, about this time of the year too. There was a hundred-mile wide wall of water running off the New England Plateau in the Namoi Peel river system. That would put out fires, although it would also create other problems.

message 6: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments Ian wrote: "Don't be sorry, Leonie. It was very informative. The situation is obviously extremely dire. I just hope you get rain like I saw when I left Australia, about this time of the year too. There was a h..."

Thanks, Ian!

One of my farmers from up the Baerami Valley came in today. He's had fire on his property for a couple of weeks now. He was telling me that the fire behaviour is bizarre.

Due to the incredible dryness, a eucalypt can be fully involved in fire within a few seconds. That's ground to crown. What that means in real terms, is that even areas that have previously undergone hazard reduction burns are so dry that those burns are not mitigating things very much at all. He also said that the fire is in one place one moment, and then thirty metres away in a flash. And then areas that you think will go up in a heartbeat, stubbornly refuse to burn.

He's been farming up there for over thirty years and was effectively going 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️

message 7: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Currently raining in Melbourne.

message 8: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments Graeme wrote: "Currently raining in Melbourne."

Send it north!

message 9: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10730 comments Those eucalypts can be a bit of a curse at times like this. They are full of terpenes and some of those would actually qualify as jet fuel. When it gets hot and the tree lets these go, you can have a wall of flame travelling at extreme speed.

We sympathise with you, and hope that rain gets there. From the colour of our sunrises, and this distance, it can't be good over there.

message 10: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14949 comments My friend from Sidney seem to be doing Ok, but that's not a rural Australia. Hope you find a way to contain those fires and some innovative solution to avoid their repeat every year

message 11: by Marie (new)

Marie Thank you for the long post Leonie! That was great information as over here in the states the news only tells us a little bit of info so we do not get all the details. It is definitely way worse than what we were seeing on the news. We are praying for rain in all of Australia! :)

message 12: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5791 comments Leonie, thanks for all the info. I feel so sad about what's happening there and all the ways the fires are affecting people. It's good for us to know how bad the fires are instead of just imagining what's happening. Has the government declared a national emergency like we do in the States when there's a hurricane? Many of us here are praying and hoping for rains to put out those fires. I've heard that some U.S. firefighters are there helping out.

message 13: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments The states affected have called a state of emergency, and our government is doing a variety of things. Some of the things are somewhat token, but others are actually helpful. We have firefighters from all over the world popping in and spelling our very tired ones.

And some rain has happened today. So exciting! We have 25mm in the rain gauge, with more expected tomorrow. Hopefully some of it has fallen on the closest fires. We're under a severe thunderstorm warning right now, but the radar says there isn't anything nearby, but the forecast for tomorrow is also good.

It's bizarre, but we've been disappointed by the forecast so many times, that everyone was almost too anxious to hope too much.

Of course, my workplace has developed a leak in the roof....🤣🤣

message 14: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5791 comments Glad to hear about the rain. Hope it continues and increases enough to abate those fires. The roof situation gave me a laugh :-)

message 15: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2250 comments Leonie wrote: "Our closest major fire is 20-40km away. ..."

Yikes! That's not that far away. If it's every bit as bad as we've been seeing on our news, I'd be terrified if I was that close. I hope everything goes good for you.

message 16: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments J.J. wrote: "Leonie wrote: "Our closest major fire is 20-40km away. ..."

Yikes! That's not that far away. If it's every bit as bad as we've been seeing on our news, I'd be terrified if I was that close. I hope..."

So far all good, J.J. We're on the edge of our town, so the town common is opposite, but so far we've been really fortunate here in the Upper Hunter.

Sadly, today we had one brief shower of rain, and then nothing else. Other places have had more than us, and others none.

Victoria has had another emergency fire warning again today.

We really need weeks of consistent rain. For us, 25mm will be enough to green things up, but not provide any run off. If we then have more heat (and it's really only the beginning of summer), we're back in fire trouble again.

message 17: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14949 comments Seen on the telly pics of heavy hails in Melbourne. Hope things get better :)

message 18: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Yep, Wet and Cold in Melbourne. Typical for us.

message 19: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10730 comments Typical?? Come on, Graeme. Some of the rest of us have actually been in Melbourne and have some idea of what is typical :-)

message 20: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments Graeme wrote: "Yep, Wet and Cold in Melbourne. Typical for us."

What, you mean four seasons in one day?

message 21: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments Nik wrote: "Seen on the telly pics of heavy hails in Melbourne. Hope things get better :)"

Canberra scored some truly epic hail. It seems we're trying to work on bringing on the apocalypse here in Australia right now.

Where I live, we've had another 20mm, but it's been absorbed immediately again, with no run off. It'll look green and pretty for a few days, but it's really deceptive. It's completely dry underneath still.

I ran into my Baerami Valley farmer in town today, and he said they'd had a little rain, which had calmed the fire right down on his property. Until last night. When the hot wind came up, and all of a sudden there was 200m of new fire front in an instant.

Forecast is: Today 35 degrees, (C), then 37, 40, 37, 37, 37. Sigh...

We're heading off for a few days this weekend to Lake Crackenback in the Snowy Mountains. (30th Wedding Anniversary) Fortunately the hotel has reopened after evacuation due to fires, and is still standing. Hopefully things will remain that way.

message 22: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14949 comments Hope you'll enjoy the lake and have an excellent wedding anniversary celebration, Leonie!

message 23: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10730 comments I also hope you have an excellent anniversary celebration, then come home and get seriously rained upon :-)

For what it is worth, there are parts of NZ facing a drought. Not on the Australian scale, but still serious, especially for farmers where there is no feed and very short of drinking water for them

message 24: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments Thanks, Nik and Ian!

Ian, I had no idea that NZ was having drought issues too. Hopefully there'll be plenty of rain in your farmers' future too! We all get caught up in our own issues, don't we? And NZ is not a place that comes to mind as dry. We envy your rain!

message 25: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10730 comments Leonie, the problem here is the wind is seemingly always westerly, and the heat from Central Australia is pushing the fronts to the south. The West Coast of the South Island has plenty of rain, but the Southern Alps are putting Canterbury in a rain shadow. The rivers coming off the Alps ameliorate that, but the fronts never seem to get up to Northland, and they haven't had rain for a very long time. The Nelson area has been in a rain shadow too because of the unusual wind direction, and everyone is worrying about bush fires. Fortunately, our bush does not have eucalypts, so that problem is not there. Meanwhile, the West Coast has, on the weather maps, a "low" fire hazard. Since it seems to rain every other day, not surprising.

Interesting, I heard on the radio today someone comment that we don't have "normal" summers now - every summer is so different, the weather is so erratic, we have no idea what "normal" is.

message 26: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments Climate change is a real problem, isn't it? The change from regular seasons to complete unpredictability is quite marked, even in the last decade.

I certainly hope things improve for the Canterbury region and Northland.

message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10730 comments And I hope Australia, which has far worse problems, gets a better dose of rain. As for climate change, I am not very hopeful, and I am afraid things will get worse because nobody is really getting to grips with the problem.

message 28: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments Thanks, Ian.

Tomorrow's forecast: 40 degrees C. Fire danger: Severe


Interestingly, our fire danger ratings go: None/Low-Moderate/High/Very High/Severe/Extreme/Catastrophic

This amuses me in a black kind of way.

message 29: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10730 comments Fortunately, we avoid the last two. Here, the long range forecast is for more rain on the West coast of the South Island, and nothing anywhere else. Lots of cloud, but it doesn't do anything. Good luck with no idiot lighting fires.

message 30: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5791 comments Nothing in the news here for several days. The last thing I saw was video of animals drinking from puddles, which made everyone think, I guess, that things have improved. You know how it is with news cycles, but many of us here still keep you in mind and in our prayers. Hope you had a lovely time celebrating your anniversary. 30 years! Wow!

message 31: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments This is the current state of affairs in NSW: 'At 7:30pm there is 62 bush and grass fires burning in NSW, all at the Advice alert level, with 22 not yet contained. There is one fire burning at the Emergency Warning level within the ACT. More than 1,600 personnel continue work in to the evening to strengthen containment lines and slow the spread of fire across the state, ahead of deteriorating conditions that are forecast later in the week.'

There has been rain in some places, and some respite in the weather, which is helpful. We're currently at Lake Crackenback in the Snowy Mountains. The closest fire is over 20km away, and most of the day everything looks really normal. But every evening, the smoke appears on the eastern horizon, and crawls into the valley.

My husband popped down to Jindabyne to get dinner, and he said it's incredibly thick there. This afternoon, there was none.

I think it's a reminder that this hasn't finished at all. Of course, many people are trying to pick up the pieces of their lives right now. And the ecological cost is catastrophic.

In some places, rain has fallen. However, we really need steady, repeated rainfall. In many places there has been none, and in most, although any rain is welcome, there is no run off. No run off means no water in dams, or running rivers/creeks.

message 32: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10730 comments Your problem is the same as our current one, although very much worse, namely the heat coming off the northern and central Australia. That heat makes cloudsmore stable, not less so, and even if you get clouds, there is no rain. Right now, here, it is quite weird - every morning starts off with really thick clouds and it looks as if it will rain, but it doesn't do more than generate a thick fog , until the sun burns it off.

message 33: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments Mind you, poor old Townsville is having floods again! Sigh...flood, fire, pestilence...

message 34: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10730 comments Leonie wrote: "Mind you, poor old Townsville is having floods again! Sigh...flood, fire, pestilence..."

Everyone should remember that Australia is a rather large place. Townsville is tropical, and as I recall, this is its rainy season. Now if only we could work out how to transfer some of that rain to somewhere more in need. The bad news up there is it is just about the start of the cyclone season.

message 35: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments Fires have flared again today in South Eastern NSW and Victoria, and around Canberra.

Some of the places we travelled through just a few days ago are now on Emergency advices. Here in the Upper Hunter it's 7.30pm, and it's still 39.7 degrees C. (103.46F) The fires have begun to generate their own weather, which is very worrying.

message 36: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 0 comments Leonie wrote: "Fires have flared again today in South Eastern NSW and Victoria, and around Canberra.

Some of the places we travelled through just a few days ago are now on Emergency advices. Here in the Upper Hu..."

Bad news indeed.

message 37: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5791 comments Hoping things will get better soon. Let us know.

message 38: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments It's raining! And the forecast is looking really promising! There's a cyclone on the northwest coast of WA, which is pulling rain and low pressure systems into action across the east. Hopefully we'll get a pile of rain - it would be nice for the drought to break.

message 39: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan I'm in Melbourne. Plenty of rain down here. The sports ovals are green and lush. My water tanks are full. The air is clear of smoke.

message 40: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Leonie wrote: "Mind you, poor old Townsville is having floods again! Sigh...flood, fire, pestilence..."

It's normal for Australia to have, floods, droughts, bushfires, cyclones, etc... it's why we're a good place to film post-apocalyptic masterpieces and sci-fi adventures.

message 41: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10730 comments Enjoy the rain. As an aside, there were some Aussie tourists in Milford Sound a couple of days ago - they got a meter of rain.

message 42: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5791 comments Yay!!

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