Author Topic: Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009  (Read 18545 times)

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Offline Colin Maitland

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Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009
« on: 24 February 2009, 03:14:06 AM »
Just reading through some articles and once again Victoria is under extreme fire conditions. Many of the communities, including  a lot of those already ravaged by bushfires, are once again on alert, as more of the dangerous bushfire weather grips Victoria. 

A total fire ban has been declared in all but Victoria's southwestern region and residents in the Warburton region, the Yarra Valley and at Enoch Point, near Eildon, have been warned to decide as early as possible to leave or stay and fight any bushfire that may come.

Much of Victoria is going to endure hot temperatures today ranging from the low to mid 30'sC, with Mildura having a forecasted high of 37C
« Last Edit: 24 February 2009, 04:09:51 AM by Jimmy Deguara »

Offline Colin Maitland

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RE: Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009
« Reply #1 on: 24 February 2009, 02:11:09 PM »
The death toll from the savage February 7 fires which ravaged the state rose to 210 on Monday following the death of a Strathewen resident in hospital over the weekend.

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) said the house in Belgrave South had been burned, with reports of others also being hit as the 70-hectare fire reaches other suburbs in the Dandenong Ranges.

More than 100 firefighters are battling the blaze, which is threatening homes in Upwey, Tecoma, Belgrave Heights, Belgrave South and Lysterfield, about 40km from Melbourne's CBD.

The CFA has urged residents to decide early whether to stay and defend their homes or flee.

Many nervous residents who spotted smoke in nearby areas such as Ferntree Gully have evacuated.

The fire came within 30 metres of houses in Glenfern Road, Tecoma, before firefighters pushed it back. A sudden change in wind direction has driven the fire towards communities in the Dandenong Ranges, and three firefighters have been injured in blazes today.

Some of the Boms observations for Monday the 23rd of Feb 2009 for Victoria were

Avalon                            Max 36C with wind gust up to 70Km/h
Cerberus                         Max 33.1C with wind gusts up to 67Km/h
Essendon Airport              Max 35.1C with wind gusts up to 63Km/h
Laverton                         Max 35.4C with wind gusts up to 63km/h
Geelong airport                Max 34.7C with wind gusts up to 89km/h
South Channel Island        (no recording)with wind gusts up to 80km/h
St Kilda Harbour               (no recording) with wind gusts up to 72km/h

Fire official are concerned a change in wind direction expected between 7.00 pm - 10.00Pm will make conditions more difficult for them. lets hope they can contain these fires.




Offline Richary

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RE: Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009
« Reply #2 on: 24 February 2009, 02:51:58 PM »
ABC radio at 7pm reported one house and one fire truck destroyed today, with 3 fire fighters injured (one seriously). Hope it doesn't get any worse.

Offline Colin Maitland

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RE: Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009
« Reply #3 on: 25 February 2009, 09:03:07 AM »
this is a part extract summary of the bushfires that are still continueing to burn. It is said that Victorian authorities warn there's no end in sight to the disastrous bushfires that have so far claimed more than 200 lives.

"It is important that people understand the events of Black Saturday are not over," the state's Emergency Services Commissioner Bruce Esplin said on Tuesday.

"The devastating fire season continues."

Updated figures confirm at least 2,029 homes have been destroyed, with more than 6,000 insurance claims lodged, totalling $775 million.

Mr Esplin said 78 townships have been affected by the bushfires, which broke out on February 7.

On Monday, five firefighters were injured in two separate incidents, with two admitted to hospital and kept overnight.

Four major fires are still burning and the authorities are bracing for a return to temperatures in the high 30s and strong winds in and around Melbourne on Friday.

Mr Esplin said about 400 fires flared up on Monday, and forecasts of more severe conditions on Friday meant everyone must be prepared.

"The weather conditions as they are forecast at the moment are putting it into the extreme category again... there is definitely no room for complacency," he said.

Offline Harley Pearman

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RE: Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009
« Reply #4 on: 25 February 2009, 03:24:54 PM »
I have seen a forecast of temperatures as high as 38C for parts of Victoria on Friday and serious fire danger as well. It seems Friday could be another dangerous day for fires.

I have also heard on a news bulletin that another Erickson Air Crane is being sent to Victoria from New South Wales to tackle the bush fire crises.

The bushfire near Beechworth also flared again in addition to others east and north east of Melbourne.

I drove to Canberra 19/2/2009 and the further south I went, the smoke haze thickened. I was in Canberra till 21/2/2009 and significant smoke haze from the blazes was observed on all 3 days across the Canberra region and it was difficult to see the ranges to the south west of the city at times.

The smoke plumes are now affecting large areas of South East Australia.

Harley Pearman

Offline Colin Maitland

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RE: Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009
« Reply #5 on: 26 February 2009, 03:21:28 AM »
Today, Wednesday the 25 of Feb 2009, fire crews in Victoria will be working to secure containment lines around the existing bushfires. They are doing this in preparation for what is expected to be the worst fire day since Black Friday.
Temperatures are expected to soar to 38 degrees C. with strong and changing winds forecasted for Friday. These winds combined with the high temperatures will add fuel to the fire. Every effort is being made to prepare for another horror day on Friday, Victoria's Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) said.
 


Fresh teams of fire fighters are being drafted in from interstate and overseas with the threat of new blazes breaking out.
Over the next two days, Victorian fire crews will be preparing for a very bad day predicted for Friday. Apart from the existing fires, there's every chance of new problems arising.
 

Lets hope they can control these fires.
Colin

Offline Colin Maitland

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RE: Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009
« Reply #6 on: 27 February 2009, 05:04:05 PM »
Here are some of the predicted temps for parts of Victoria tomorrow, Friday the 27th of Feb 2009.

Forecast for Friday
Wimmera District Forecast

Becoming cloudy. Isolated showers in the afternoon and evening. Winds north to northwesterly averaging 20 to 30 km/h shifting south to southwesterly 25 to 35 km/h during the afternoon. Overnight temperatures falling to around 16 with daytime temperatures reaching the upper 30s.
Horsham
Late change.
Min15      Max 39
Maximum Fire Danger: Extreme

Mallee District Forecast
Partly cloudy. Isolated showers in the afternoon and evening. Winds north to northwesterly averaging about 30 km/h shifting cooler south to southwesterly up to 45 km/h during the late afternoon. Overnight temperatures falling to around 16 with daytime temperatures reaching the lower 40s.
Mildura
Late change.
Min15      Max 41
Swan Hill
Late change.
Min15      Max  41
Maximum Fire Danger: Extreme

Partly cloudy. Areas of smoke haze early in the morning. Isolated showers during the evening. Winds northeast to northwesterly averaging 15 to 25 km/h, reaching 30 km/h at times, shifting cooler southwesterly later in the evening. Overnight temperatures falling to around 15 with daytime temperatures reaching the lower 40s.
Echuca
Late shower or two.
Min15   Max 40
Bendigo
Late change.
Min 15   Max  39
Shepparton
Late change.
Min14    Max  39
Maximum Fire Danger: Extreme

Northeast District Forecast
Partly cloudy. Areas of smoke haze in the southwest. Winds northeast to northwesterly averaging 15 to 25 km/h becoming light at night. Overnight temperatures falling to between 10 and 15 with daytime temperatures reaching 32 to 38.
Albury-Wodonga
Sunny.
Min15    Max 35
Wangaratta
Sunny.
Min13    Max 38
Maximum Fire Danger: Extreme

It seems the education department are not taking any chances with reported that 200 schools will remain closed tomorrow. Lets hope that they can contain these fires.



Offline Michael Bath

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RE: Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009
« Reply #7 on: 28 February 2009, 05:10:22 AM »
Maximum conditions are much lower than Black Saturday though with the lack of rain all year, windy dry conditions and existing fires, today could be quite bad.

850 hPa temperaures and wind vector forecast for 5pm today attached.
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Offline Colin Maitland

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RE: Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009
« Reply #8 on: 01 March 2009, 01:57:44 AM »
There was some good news for Victoria on Friday, although it was still hot in places, temperatures had been predicted to reach 39 degrees, but they were milder than expected.

Conditions are expected to be cool throughout the state on Saturday.

There were fears a cool change on Friday evening would bring winds and fan the four major fires that have been burning since Black Saturday.

Country Fire Authority state duty officer Alan Rankin said the westerly wind was a lot slower than expected and taking longer to make it's way across the state.

"We're quietly confident that the change will not be presenting us with any significant challenges," Mr Rankin told AAP on Saturday.

"It's always nice when you get a pleasant surprise like that."


A high of 35 degrees topped Melbourne's temperature charts yesterday.

That allowed firefighters to continue to work on building thick containment lines and keep the four major fires still burning under control.




MB EDIT: Col and all - please remember to include the link to article source
« Last Edit: 01 March 2009, 02:54:03 AM by Michael Bath »

Offline Harley Pearman

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RE: Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009
« Reply #9 on: 01 March 2009, 07:06:54 AM »
The situation was still tough in some places across Victoria but nowhere near the conditions of 7/2/2009. I have had a look at the Bureau of Meteorology Weather Stations for some sites across Victoria taken at 3 pm. The biggest concern seems to be the lack of moisture and the cool change moving across the state. Due points in some localities were well into the negatives.

The table provided below has data sourced from "3 pm Daily Weather Bulletin - Victoria 27/2/2009" to show what happened:-

Location        3 pm Temperature       Dew Point      Wind Direction

Mildura              38C                          Minus 7         NW 15 KM/H
Hopetoun           39C                          Minus 2         NW 15 KM/H
Swan Hill           37C                          Minus 9          N 17 KM/H
Horsham            39C                          Minus 2         NW 26/KM/H
Stawell             36C                          Minus 3          N 15/KM/H
Hamilton            37C                          Minus 3         NW 30 KM/H
Warrnambool      38C                          Plus 9           SW 35 KM/H

The cool change had gone through Warrnambool by 3 pm but the figures show the city hitting 38C prior to the cool change.

Avalon              37C                          Plus 3           W 17 KM/H
Geelong            36C                          Plus 4            NW 17 KM/H
Melbourne         33C                          Plus 9            NNE 11 KM/H
Bendigo            33C                          Plus 2            NNW 17 KM/H
Echuca             34C                          Plus 7           NW 9 KM/H
Shepparton       33C                          Plus 9            NW 19 KM/H
Yarrawonga       33C                          Plus 6           N 13 KM/H
Albury Airport    31C                          Plus 9            S 6 KM/H
Kilmore Gap       29C                          Plus 6            N 6 KM/H

Conditions were more milder in Gippsland and in many areas, the expected maximum temperature was not reached. The greatest area of heat was limited to areas of Western Victoria ahead of the cool change. However as previously mentioned, due points were very low and in some areas were well into the negatives.

The cool change has brought no rain but has brought much cooler conditions for 28/2/2009. Monday looks like being another dangerous day but an even more vigorous cool change / cold front for Tuesday should be bringing some shower activity to fire affected areas.

I have been looking at some weather models and it looks like falls in the order of 5 to 10 mm is probable in areas north east of Melbourne. The Tuesday cold front 3/3/2009 is showing some promise for some shower activity which is good news.

Reading The Age (Melbourne) 28/2/2009 and the article "Crews Hold Tough Fires in Check" (Peter Gregory and Marika Dobbin), it is stated that 2,029 homes, 11 community buildings, 59 commercial buildings, 2,385 agriculture sheds and some dairies have been destroyed.

It looks like beyond Tuesday 3/2/2009, weather conditions should be more ideal for fire fighters to start containing the fires and perhaps an eventual end to this crises.

Harley Pearman
« Last Edit: 01 March 2009, 08:48:43 AM by Michael Bath »

Offline Colin Maitland

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RE: Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009
« Reply #10 on: 02 March 2009, 09:59:07 AM »
Victoria is bracing itself for some pretty nasty weather for Tuesday, as John Allen mentioned in the previous reply. I have posted this from the BOM site for a severe weather warning on Tuesday

Severe Weather Warning for Tuesday 3rd March 2009
for people in the All districts of Victoria.

Issued at 3.20 pm EDT on Sunday 1 March 2009.
Weather Situation

A strong cold front will cross the State on Tuesday, moving into the far southwest late morning, central districts late afternoon and will move through far eastern parts of the State Tuesday night.

Northerly winds are expected to increase to average 60 to 80km/h ahead of the front with gusts in excess of 100km/h. Winds over Alpine areas are expected to average 70 to 95km/h with gusts around 120km/h.

Winds are expected to shift west to southwesterly following the front and will initially be of similar strength although some easing is expected Tuesday night.

The State Emergency Service advises that people should:

    * Keep clear of fallen power lines.
    * Beware of fallen trees or debris on the road.
    * For emergency help in floods and storms, ring your local SES Unit on 132 500.

The next warning will be issued by 6am Monday 2nd March 2009.


The ABC news article suggested winds as strong as 150 km/h, but I don't know where they have sourced that information from. But regardless, it is going to be an intense day.

An extract from the article states

"Northerly winds are expected to strengthen tomorrow night, packing gusts of up to 150 kilometres-an-hour on Tuesday.

Emergency Services Commissioner Bruce Esplin says the weather could be as bad as February 7.

"The weather forecast is for conditions that could approximate Black Saturday, or Ash Wednesday," he said.



« Last Edit: 02 March 2009, 10:10:10 AM by coltan »

Offline Harley Pearman

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RE: Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009
« Reply #11 on: 02 March 2009, 01:40:00 PM »
Tuesday is another tough day for firefighters ahead of and post cold front. I have been looking at some rainfall models at Weatherzone and Bureau of Meteorology for Tuesday and Wednesday 3/3/09 and 4/3/09 that shows the following:-

a) Bureau of Meteorology models currently show 5 to 10 mm in the form of showers across the fire affected areas.

b) Weatherzone models currently show 1 - 5 mm for Tuesday and 1 - 5 mm for Wednesday across the fire affected areas. This would give falls varying between 2 and 10 mm.

Rainfall is unlikely to be heavy and or significant at this stage in the fire affected areas but at least some shower activity will be occurring and any precipitation should assist the fire fighting effort.

Harley Pearman

Offline Harley Pearman

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RE: Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009
« Reply #12 on: 03 March 2009, 02:34:21 PM »
Reading the Environment Section of "Sydney Morning Herald" 2/3/2009, I found an extensive gallery of photos from the bush fires recently taken including some of recent days. Located at:-

http://www.smh.com.au/photogallery/2009/02/07/1233423569062.html

In the Photos "Devastation in Victoria" and or "Bushfires Rage in Victoria". They show the impact plus the human face of this disaster. They provide a good spread from the ground to aerial shots taken.

A frightening part of it is an image taken on 9 Feb by NASA Earth Observatory Website showing the land temperature from January 25 to February 1 compared to the average mid summer temperatures experienced between 2000 and 2008.

One can clearly see the extent of the heatwave leading up to the bush fire event especially across southern New South Wales and Victoria.

Tonight 2/3/09, the state of Victoria is on alert for wind gusts of at least 120 km/h ahead of the approaching cold front and watching the 7 pm ABC news, it is stated that some 4,000 fire fighters are ready to go. Bushfire brigades expect to lose control of the biggest fire being the Murridindi complex. Further, the affected areas and communities have been saturated with warnings and alerts in advance. It appears the emergency services are taking no chances with this weather event.

Harley Pearman

Offline Colin Maitland

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RE: Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009
« Reply #13 on: 03 March 2009, 02:59:48 PM »
It is looking like a pretty nasty system moving in from the southern Ocean. It is almost that of Antartic cyclone with 975 Hpa in the centre of the low, and below freezing temps shown on the 850HPA.

Hope every one stays alert and safe.

Colin

Offline Colin Maitland

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RE: Victoria Bushfires: 23 February to 4 March 2009
« Reply #14 on: 03 March 2009, 03:33:42 PM »
I have posted this straight from 9msn, as a media record of the events as they unfold. The article was written by Katie Bradford.

Victoria has mobilised thousands of firefighters under an unprecedented plan to protect the state from gale-force winds and fire conditions almost as bad as Black Saturday.

Although temperatures are forecast to reach a high of just 32 degrees on Tuesday, winds of up to 150km/h are expected, compounding the extreme fire risk across the state from Monday evening.

Premier John Brumby says the weather is "unprecedented".

And although the searing hot temperatures experienced on February 7 will not be felt, authorities warn conditions will be among the worst ever seen in the state.

"The next 48 hours are really unprecedented and they are up there with the very worst," the premier said.

He said the weather would be as bad as that experienced in the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 and Black Friday in 1939, but not quite as bad as the inferno of Black Saturday three weeks ago in which at least 210 people perished.

"We've got more people on the ground, more tankers, more resources, more people from interstate, more aerial appliances than we've ever had in the history of the state," Mr Brumby said.

More than 4,000 firefighters, State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers and other personnel will be out in force.

Strong wind gusts are expected to rip through some high altitude areas that have already been ravaged by fire, Mr Brumby said.

Following controversy over the lack of early warning systems before the February 7 fires, Victoria Police have arranged for text messages warning of the extreme weather conditions to be sent out to five million mobile phones.

People are being told to put their fire plans in place straight away and if they are going to leave, to go on Monday evening.

Emergency Services Commissioner Bruce Esplin said the warnings were not a case of "crying wolf".

"This is a very genuine concern about the weather tonight and tomorrow, both from a fire perspective and from a storm perspective," Mr Esplin told reporters.

He said emergency service had done everything they could to be prepared, but the community also needed to step up.

"We need people to be aware, prepared and alert," he said.

Metropolitan areas were also at risk, not just rural areas, authorities stressed.

The winds may also cause power blackouts throughout the state and fallen trees and other debris could create hazards.

Conditions could be so extreme that firefighters could be moved off the frontline early, and firefighting aircraft may not be able to fly, said Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) chief officer Ewan Waller.

Police and armed forces will suspend their search for people still missing since the February 7 fires, while 313 government schools, 264 childcare providers, 25 independent schools and 30 national parks will be closed.

A total fire ban is in place throughout the state on Tuesday.

Four fires continued to burn on Monday, with the giant Kilmore-Murrindindi North Complex posing the most concern, particularly to the communities of Woods Point, Jamieson, Eildon and Mt Buller.

The Kilmore-Murrindindi South, Bunyip and Wilson's Promontory blazes are also continuing to burn, but authorities warn the fire threat exists across the entire state.

Most people in the Yarra Valley town of Warburton have already left or are expected to leave on Monday evening, after living on edge for three weeks since February 7.

Wesburn resident Greg Mitchell lives about 5km from Warburton and has his bags packed and ready to go if fire strikes.

"We've got all our essentials packed ready to go," Mr Mitchell told AAP.

"A lot of people in Warby have left already and we'll leave no doubt 'cause it's going to be windy tonight."

The wind is predicted to continue on Wednesday, although some rain is expected.