Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

After months of bushfires raging across the Australian coast, elated firefighters have just announced that they have managed to contain all of the fires. The news comes after a week of historic rainfall in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Although there are still 24 active fires burning in the region, they are small enough for firefighters to manage accordingly.

Wildlife

Australia’s Bushfires Brought 113 Species Closer to Extinction

On Tuesday, the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment released a list of 113 species with the highest urgent need for conservation action due to the damage they’ve suffered from this tragic situation. The list includes species such as the Kangaroo Island dunnart and Pugh’s frog, both of which are “at imminent risk of extinction,” per the report, because of how much habitat the fires destroyed.

These species were endangered before this year’s bushfire season kicked off. Now, things have gotten worse when they need to be getting better. Most have lost at least 30 percent of their range, but many have lost even more. The endemic red browed treecreeper, for instance, saw almost half of its range burn. This priority list features animals such as the golden-tipped bat, which likes to dwell in the forests and caves of the fire-stricken eastern coast of Australia, is among those included. This list is focusing on species with key functions in the ecosystem.

Many of the other species on the list—13 birds, 19 mammals, 20 reptiles, 17 frogs, five invertebrae, 22 crayfish, and 17 freshwater fish—also face severe habitat disruption.

Screen Shot 2020 02 12 at 15 55 08

Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

At least one home was lost in a bushfire which descended on the Western Australian town of Katanning on Saturday. The bushfire has burned through about 4,500 hectares after being sparked by lightning on Friday. The fire tore through farmland as it approached the town of more than 3,500 people in WA’s Great Southern region in the afternoon. There were also reports farming machinery, sheds and infrastructure were lost in the blaze.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 14s (Damien), located approximately 160 nm northwest of Port Hedland, Australia, is tracking southwestward at 04 knots

NewsBytes:

Australia – Much of Australia’s wildfire-ravaged east coast was drenched on Friday by the biggest rainfall in almost 20 years, dousing some of the most dangerous blazes and providing welcome relief to farmers battling an extended drought. The downpour came with its own risks – officials warned of flash floods and landslides across New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state – but was generally greeted jubilantly after months of devastating bushfires.

Southeast USA – A powerful winter storm raked the Southeast on Thursday with high winds, rain and floods that killed at least four people and injured several more across a dozen states. Rescue crews repeatedly pulled people from cars that got stuck in high water, but couldn’t reach a person whose vehicle disappeared into a rain-swollen creek. The storm front destroyed mobile homes in Mississippi and Alabama, caused mudslides in Tennessee and Kentucky and flooded communities that shoulder waterways across the Appalachian region. In Florida, high winds prompted the closure of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge spanning Tampa Bay, the Florida Highway Patrol said. Tornado watches were in effect Thursday night from northern Florida up through North Carolina.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

More homes are believed to have been destroyed by bushfires in southeastern NSW where hundreds of properties have already been lost in blazes this summer.

Strong winds and high temperatures on Saturday night pushed the massive 177,000-hectare Border fire north towards Bega Valley while three separate blazes burning southwest of the region merged into one.

There were 70 fires burning in NSW as of Sunday evening with 30 not yet contained. There are 2,200 firefighters in the field.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Tanzania – At least thirteen people have died and around 15 000 people have been left homeless after flash floods in Iringa and Lindi in southern Tanzania.

Australia – Adelaide and parts of South Australia were battered by thunderstorms and heavy rainfall with flash floods in some areas. Power was cut to several thousand homes.

Canada – Relentless rain along British Columbia’s southern coast has closed roads, swollen rivers and prompted a state of local emergency in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. A number of homes had to be evacuated.

USA – Major flooding and landslides have been reported in Western Washington. Rivers continue to rise with potential for moderate to major flooding in some areas, including the Snohomish River which is now above 27 feet. Stillaguamish River near Granite falls reported major flooding. King, Lewis and Skagit counties remain under flood watch until Sunday morning.

Screen Shot 2020 02 02 at 14 27 39

Wildlife

Half a Billion Animals Killed in Australia Wildfires

Ecologists now say wildfires that have scorched huge swaths of Australia have killed half a billion animals, revising a previous estimate of more than 2 billion animals killed. Nearly a third of the continent’s koalas has been wiped out—and some other species face total extermination as high temperatures and drought fuel the blazes. “Many of the affected animals are likely to have been killed directly by the fires, with others succumbing later due to the depletion of food and shelter resources and predation from introduced feral cats and red foxes,” the team from University of Sydney said.

GettyImages 1185446528 jqpgdz

Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

A wildfire sparked by a military helicopter helping firefighting efforts was blazing out of control and threatening homes on the outskirts of Australia’s capital on Wednesday as fire danger escalated across the country’s southeast.

The fire had spread over 23,500 acres since it was started by a transport helicopter landing light that ignited grass in a national park south of Canberra on Monday afternoon, authorities said.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Screen Shot 2020 01 26 at 12 38 53

In the Southern Hemisphere – Tropical cyclone (tc) 11s (Esami), located approximately 1190 nm east-southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius, is tracking southeastward at 22 knots.

Tropical cyclone (tc) 10s (Diane), located approximately 676 nm east-southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius, is tracking southeastward at 24 knots.

Tropical cyclone (tc) 12p (Twelve), located approximately 250 nm southeast of Niue, is tracking south-southeastward at 02 knots.

Screen Shot 2020 01 26 at 12 39 14

NewsBytes:

Australia – Australia’s bushfire-stricken state of Queensland saw heavy rainfalls on Sunday that dampened some of the fires that have razed 2.5 million hectares (1.2 million acres) since September, but the wet weather caused major flooding. Several people were rescued from floodwaters and some bridges and causeways were closed, but no severe damage had been reported.

Brazil At least 30 people have died after two days of heavy rain caused flooding and landslides in southeast Brazil. Seventeen people have been listed as missing and 2,600 were evacuated from their houses in Minas Gerais state, which has been buffeted by 48 hours of torrential rain. Photos show people, including children, swimming through some of the flooded streets.

Skynews child swims through flooded street 4902203

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Afghanistan – Severe weather in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of 13 people and injured forty others. According to the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS), around 655 houses have been partially damaged, 30 houses are completely destroyed and 322 families have been displaced. Heavy snowfall, flooding and a large number of avalanches were reported in different parts of Afghanistan between 12 -15 January 2020.

Australia – Thunderstorms and giant hail battered parts of Australia’s east coast on Monday after “apocalyptic” dust storms swept across drought-stricken areas, as extreme weather patterns collided in the bushfire-fatigued country. Violent hail storms pelted the capital Canberra on Monday, with footage showing the storm ripping branches off trees. Dramatic images captured over the weekend from western New South Wales show a massive wall of dust rolling through outback towns. Locals reported being cast into darkness in the middle of the day.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Australia – After months of intense heat and devastating bushfires, Australia’s east coast was battered by heavy rainstorms Saturday, causing flash flooding in parts and road closures. Major highways were closed in Queensland as the state was hit with some of the heaviest rain the country has seen for months. There were also power was cut in parts of New South Wales.

Zimbabwe – Residents in Hwange were left counting their loses after a lot of their property was destroyed by a rain storm which also swept away their chickens and other domestic animals. A number of houses were also destroyed.

Brazil – At least six people have died and at least one more was missing Sunday following torrential rains in southern Brazil, authorities said. Meteorologists said nearly 250 millimeters (10 inches) of rain devastated parts of Espiritu Santo state starting Friday, though the rains had tapered off by Sunday. State firefighters reported three dead in the town of Alfredo Chaves and three others in Iconha, where at least one woman was missing. The flooding destroyed three bridges, left cars piled up, trees toppled and houses covered in mud.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 08p (Tino), located approximately 294 nm west-southwest of Niue, is tracking southeastward at 16 knots.

NewsBytes:

Australia – Parts of Australia’s east coast were hit by severe storms on Saturday, dousing some of the bushfires that have devastated the region for months but causing road closures and flash flooding. Despite the heavy rain, authorities were still battling nearly 100 blazes – part of the bushfires that have killed 29 people since September, destroyed more than 2,500 homes and scorched an area nearly one-third the size of Germany. Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, three of the states most hit by drought and bushfires, are now dealing with rain bucketing down in several areas.

Zambia – Heavy rainfall in recent days has led to riverine and flash floods in Zambia, mainly in the Southern Province, with Gwembe and Siavonga Districts hardest-hit. The flooding has destroyed crops, including maize, especially in Munyumbwe area in Gwembe District, according to the Government’s Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU). Some bridges have been submerged in the same area, hampering access.

Wildfires

Circumnavigating Smoke

NASA satellite images show the thick pall of smoke from Australia’s firestorms, which reached South America last week, has blown entirely around the Southern Hemisphere, approaching Australia from the west.

Besides choking most of southeastern Australia, the smoke has also created an air pollution crisis downwind in New Zealand and darkened that country’s glaciers after falling on them as soot.

Meanwhile, days of rain are bringing some much-needed relief to Australia’s firefighters, but it won’t be enough to fully alleviate the threat of more than 140 fires that were still burning.

At least 80% of the Blue Mountains world heritage area and more than 50% of the Gondwana world heritage rainforests have burned in Australia’s ongoing bushfire crisis.

The scale of the disaster is such that it could affect the diversity of eucalypts for which the Blue Mountains world heritage area is recognised.

Wildfires

Australia’s prehistoric Wollemi pine trees saved from bushfires

An ancient grove of pine trees whose ancestors are thought to have stood tall among dinosaurs some 200 million years ago has been saved from Australian bushfires in a covert firefighting mission.

Firefighters in New South Wales (NSW) were enlisted by the local government to save the prehistoric Wollemi Pine grove, which exists in a secret location within the 5,000-square-kilometre (1,930-square-mile) Wollemi National Park northwest of Sydney.

The oldest fossil of the rare pine species dates back 90 million years and the pines are thought to have existed during the Jurassic period.

Large air tankers of fire retardant were dropped inside the remote grove as part of the mission, while specialist firefighters attached to helicopters were winched down to set up an irrigation system to protect the trees from catching alight. There are fewer than 200 Wollemi Pines left in the wild.

200115095411 06 australia firefighters wollemi pines exlarge 169

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 07s (Claudia), located approximately about 449 nm north-northwest of Learmonth, Australia. Claudia is moving southwestward at 12 knots.

Screen Shot 2020 01 15 at 14 23 50

NewsBytes:

Pakistan, Afghanistan – Avalanches, flooding and harsh winter weather killed more than 130 people across Pakistan and Afghanistan in recent days, leaving others stranded by heavy snowfall, officials said on Tuesday. At least 93 people died and 76 were injured across Pakistan – with several still missing – while a further 39 were killed in Afghanistan, according to officials in both countries. Forecasts suggest more harsh weather is on the way.

Australia – Heavy rain, flash floods and severe thunderstorms have swept over Melbourne and rain is forecast to hit bushfire-affected parts of New South Wales and Victoria later this week. In just 30 minutes, 44mm of rain fell at Avalon on Wednesday afternoon, and wind gusts reached 110km/h as wild weather hit the state’s south and moved north.

Mississippi, USA – Flooding left roads in Mississippi underwater on Jan. 14. Authorities in Mississippi urged residents to evacuate in the northern part of the state Tuesday after heavy rains spawned a flash-flood emergency and put a dam at “imminent” risk of failing. A flash flood emergency was issued in Oktibbeha County, located in the east-central portion of the state. Oktibbeha County Lake Dam is in imminent danger of failing.