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    PHOTOS: Smoke Engulfs Sydney Skyline as Fires Rage Nearby

    By Dan DePodwin, online journalist/meteorologist
    October 19, 2013; 2:15 AM ET
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    A prolonged stretch of dry, hot weather has continued to fuel brushfires near Sydney, Australia. The state of New South Wales has been hit hard with fires over the last few months, and little relief is in sight.

    Thick smoke spread across the sky in Sydney and neighboring cities Thursday as temperatures climbed above 30 degrees C, about 10 degrees C above average.

    A combination of the heat, extremely dry air and wind gusts near 75 kph (47 mph) made conditions ripe for fires. An arid northerly breeze, as was the case Thursday, is perfect or aiding fire growth.

    The scorching temperatures and parched conditions continue the trend of a warm October and mild last several months. Fortunately, a cooldown occurred Friday with temperatures holding near 20 degrees C. A moist wind off the water aided in quelling the fire threat.

    Smoke fills the sky near Sydney and turns it a shade or milky shade of orange. Image courtesy of Flickr user Maarten Danial.

    The reprieve, however, will be short-lived. Thermometers should spike past 30 degrees C by Sunday and Monday along with dry conditions.

    Later next week, signs point to a stretch of cooler and potentially wet weather which may aid the fire fighting efforts.

    The Associated Press reported that nearly 100 wildfires burned Friday across New South Wales and eighty-one homes were destroyed.

    An image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) shows the smoke from multiple fires spreading across Sydney, Australia on Thursday, October 17, 2013.

    As noted by AccuWeather.com on Oct. 10, "The extended period of parched conditions across New South Wales has made the state particularly vulnerable to fires leading into the summer. Sydney, for example, has only received 38 percent of their normal rainfall since July 1."

    The sky turned an eerie combination of red and black as smoke from fires moved through Sydney. Image courtesy of Flickr user Maarten Danial.

    Brushfires are a frequent occurrence in Australia and are beneficial and a way of life for many parts of the ecosystem. However, widespread and fast-moving fires are a threat to homes and businesses across the continent, resulting in property damage and fatalities.


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