Heavy Rains Bring Bushfire Relief to Australia as Northwest Braces for Cyclone

February 6, 2020 Updated: February 6, 2020
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Parts of Australia were hit by heavy rains on Feb. 6, while the country’s northwest braces for a possibly severe tropical cyclone.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued severe thunderstorm warnings for people in parts of Riverland and Murraylands districts in South Australia, and parts of Central, East Gippsland, North Central, North East, and West and South Gippsland districts in Victoria.

State Emergency Services advised people that in areas affected by bushfires in Victoria, rainfall run-off into waterways may contain debris such as ash, soil, trees, and rocks, and there’s a potential for landslides.

Flood warnings were also issued for Queensland, which has seen about 8 inches of rainfall in some locations, along with flash flooding, which has caused widespread commuter delays, News.com.au reports.

In the state’s capital of Brisbane, emergency services have responded to two traffic accidents south of the city, and a red alert has been issued.

Heavy rain and flooding warnings were also issued in New South Wales, where rains are expected to last for several days, and winds in excess of 56 mph are possible for coastal areas between Forster and Wooli during Feb. 6.

“There’s a great feed of easterly warm, moist air feeding into the system, and we’re seeing that kick off in the form of rainfall today,” BOM forecaster Mike Funnell told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“We are expecting those larger totals and heavier rainfall to come into the northeast coast of NSW and then sort of track slowly southwards.”

Coastal communities in Western Australia’s north are being urged to prepare for a cyclone expected to develop off the west Kimberley coast today. The Pilbara coast can expect gales late Feb. 7, and a severe cyclone impact is probable on Feb. 8, BOM said. The cyclone is expected to bring destructive winds of up to 90 mph as it approaches the coast.

“People in or near Port Hedland to Mardie including the Town of Port Hedland, Whim Creek, Point Samson, Wickham, Roebourne, Karratha, Dampier, and Pannawonica need to prepare for cyclonic weather and organize an emergency kit including first-aid kit, torch, portable radio, spare batteries, food, and water,” the bureau said.

The wet weather has bought some relief to parts of Australia after a summer of record-high bushfires devastated more than 29 million acres (11.7 million hectares) of land since September, some of which were still burning across NSW and Victoria, the country’s most populous states. Around half of the fires are classified as uncontained.

About 2,500 homes have been destroyed in the country since September, while 33 people and an estimated 1 billion native animals were killed. Officials have warned that the threat is not over yet, and the country may still face weeks more of tackling the blazes.

Reuters contributed to this article.