Bushfires, cyclone, torrential rain hit Australia’s coasts

Pedestrians hold umbrellas as they walk in heavy rain in Sydney's CBD, Australia, January 17, 2020. — AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi pic via Reuters
Pedestrians hold umbrellas as they walk in heavy rain in Sydney's CBD, Australia, January 17, 2020. — AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi pic via Reuters

MELBOURNE, Feb 9 — Severe bushfires burned through parts of Western Australia today, with other areas of the state dealing with the aftermath of a powerful cyclone, while the country’s east coast was facing potential life-threatening flash flooding.

After months of destructive wildfires that have razed millions of hectares of land, Australia has been hit in recent weeks by wild weather that has alternately brought heavy downpours, hail storms, gusty winds and hot and dry air.

About a dozen fires were burning in Western Australia (WA) today, with severe fire danger expected in several districts, according to fire services and the state’s Bureau of Meteorology.

“Very hot over the Eucla (in WA) with a fresh and gusty southerly change extending from the west during the morning and afternoon,” the Bureau of Meteorology said on its website.

Daytime temperatures in the Eucla district were forecast at up to 42 Celsius.

The state’s upper parts were battling today the aftermath of a tropical cyclone Damien that made a landfall yesterday afternoon, bringing gusty winds of up to 200 kilometres per hour.

No immediate damages were reported and the cyclone was expected to weaken as it moved inland, but winds were seen to blow at more than 100 kilometres per hour.

On the opposite coast of Australia, Sydney and the state of New South Wales were in danger of potential life-threatening flash flooding as rain kept bucketing down for a third day in a row in downpours not seen since 1998.

Rainfall in some parts of the state approached half the annual average, but the falls were welcomed after the state saw its driest year on record in 2019, at 55% below average.

The state’s Bureau of Meteorology said there was potential for heavy “rainfall and life-threatening flash-flooding,” and coast erosion, although little danger of river flooding as water levels have been low due to a persistent drought.

In Queensland, meteorologists also warned of flash and riverine flooding today, following heavy falls overnight. — Reuters

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