- Sydney has not experienced as much rain since the 1990s.
- There are still firefighting activities in various parts of the country
- Environmentalists at the University of Sydney estimate that at least 480 million animals have died in the blaze alone in New South Wales.
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has announced it was able to control all forest fires in the state with the help of rainy days. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Meteorology issued a strong warning Monday to the entire coastal area of New South Wales. In parts of the state, the danger of flooding was life-threatening. Some of the suburbs of Sydney, the state capital, had to be evacuated.
The city has not experienced much rain since the 1990s. In the past four days, there has been 391.6 mm of rainfall, according to meteorological data. Around 140,000 families in Sydney and its surroundings did not receive electricity temporarily overnight.
Since October, devastating fires have occurred in most areas of Australia. The worst wildfire disaster in modern Australian history has particularly affected eastern states: New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. Thanks to heavy rains, all fires in New South Wales are under control. There are still firefighting activities in various parts of the country. Australia’s hot summer runs through March.
Across Australia, more than ten million hectares have been burned to the ground since October. That’s one-third the size of Denmark, and almost three times the area of Switzerland (about 4.1 million hectares). So far, 33 people have been victims of the flames. Across Australia, more than 2,000 homes have been destroyed since the fire started.
Thousands are fleeing. More than half of the cities, including popular tourist spots in New South Wales and Victoria, have been evacuated. The worst air quality in January was measured by smoke in Melbourne.
The wildfire also has disastrous consequences for wildlife. Environmentalists at the University of Sydney estimate that at least 480 million animals have died in the blaze alone in New South Wales. Billions of animals across the country are believed to have already been killed by fires. The koala is one of the animals that suffered the most damage. With slow-motion, they are less likely to escape a fire. In New South Wales alone, about a third of the koala population were killed by fires. According to the WWF, nearly 20,000 koalas live in New South Wales.
In Kangaroo Island, South Australia, wildfires completely destroyed the Flinders Chase National Park. Among other things, kangaroos, and koalas live in the national park.
As a result of severe drought, Australia has ordered the killing of up to 10,000 camels. South Australian authorities announced in early January that animals in remote Australian areas were threatened with extinction. Huge flocks reached communities in search of water and food, contaminated drinking water, and looted food supplies.
Insurers have reportedly spent $700 million, or about € 430 million, on insurance claims since January 7th. According to the Australian Insurance Association, nearly 9,000 casualties have been reported, but that number is expected to increase dramatically. Bush fires are caused by unusually long droughts, high winds, low humidity, and high temperatures.
Scientists explain that the intensity of the fires is largely due to global warming. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, 2019 was very dry— with only six percent of the annual rainfall. Daytime temperatures are well more than two degrees Celsius above normal. This has made 2019 the hottest and driest year on the Australian continent since records began.
The office predicts that the warm season of the year will be extended due to the warmer weather and more severe impacts can be predicted. According to the researchers, with the increase in severe drought due to climate change, forest fires could soon be normalized.