Sudden downpour across the east coast of Australia has provided much-needed relief to the regions which have been affected by bushfires. According to officials, the heavy rain has extinguished at least a third of the fires in the area.
In New South Wales (NSW), 20 of about 60 fires were extinguished in the state on February 6. Victoria recorded 21 active fires which are also at its lowest levels.
“There’s lots of smiles around the place,” said NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons. Sydney Mayor Clover Moore tweeted: “It was fantastic to wake up to much-needed rain this morning! Today has already been the wettest Sydney day in 15 months, and thankfully it’s raining across NSW where we need it most.”
Flash flood warnings
While locals are happy to see heavy rains after months of drought and the bushfire crisis, authorities have warned of flash flooding in the capital of NSW, Sydney. NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott warned that floods are as dangerous as bushfires.
“You would not walk into a bushfire so why would you drive through a flood,” he said.
He added that in previous rain seasons, there have been cases of motorist deaths caused by floods on the east coast.
Elliot also said that many beaches would be closed this weekend due to heavy rain forecasts.
According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, an estimated 120 – 200 millimeters (4.73 – 7.88 inches) of rain is expected on February 8 and 90 – 120 millimeters (3.54 – 4.73 inches) is expected the next day.
Sydney has charted its wettest day on February 7 in recent months, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. The city which is also Australia’s largest city recorded its wettest day in over 15 months on February 8.
Heavy rain not enough
Despite the heavy torrential rain, NSW RFS warns that the heavy rains will not be enough to break the fire season, as the fires are expected to continue during summer. “It is expected the fires will be back on again as summer continues,” the service’s spokesperson, Jonty Bruce said.
The bushfires have killed at least 33 people, destroyed thousands of homes and scorched 11 million hectares (27 181 591.96 acres) of land, since September 2019.