Sydney Fire Situation to Worsen Again This Weekend

By Mark Paquette
November 03, 2013; 1:45 AM
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After a brief respite from awful conditions for firefighters, both temperatures and winds are expected to increase across fire-ravaged New South Wales this weekend.

The region is in a longterm drought with recent rainfall of around 5-8 mm (around 0.25 of an inch) being nothing more than a temporary relief for firefighters in the area.

"The main benefits from the recent rain was not so much increased soil moisture, but was an increase in humidity and a decrease in temperature," Expert Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.

A firefighter hoses to control flames near houses at Bilpin, 75 kilometers (47 miles) west of Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. Authorities have warned that hotter weather and increased winds are expected and are preparing for the conditions to worsen. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

After a seasonably warm Friday with highs between 24-27C (75-80F) for most areas, the heat will return Saturday and Sunday.

"Temperatures are expected to rise well into the 30s C (90s F) and wind speeds will pick up to 25-50 kph (15-30 mph) Saturday and Sunday near Sydney as an area of high pressure settles across the region," Nicholls added.

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With this rise in both winds and temperatures, humidity levels will drop as any moisture is whisked away from the area. Thus, conditions for firefighters are expected to become more challenging as these conditions are conducive for burning and spreading fires.

Although most of the wildfires that started in the past weeks have been contained or are currently being controlled by firefighters, the conditions this weekend could lead to a new round of fires across the region.

Fortunately, the heat is not expected to be prolonged. A cold front should bring a dramatic drop in temperature and an increase in moisture late Sunday, perhaps accompanied by some showers. Conditions early next week should assist firefighting efforts. Meteorologists Eric Leister and Dan DePodwin contributed to this story.


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