It’s now 2020, which should mean a fresh start, but sadly the fires don’t know that. Australia has 6 states and 2 territories (see map below) – all 6 states are burning. The 2 territories are safe at the moment, although the Northern Territory had fires in September 2019.
Unfortunately, the territory I live in, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), has a lot of fires quite close to it (see below). The ACT has only one city, Canberra, and the rest is Namadgi National Park. Canberra was hit hard by fire in 2003, so it’s a city on edge…people know what can happen and how quickly. Hopefully the fires will stay away, but it will depend on the weather.
The air quality in Canberra from the smoke has been appalling. It’s been blanketed in smoke for weeks (of varying quality), but with the fires so close, and current wind conditions, we’ve had the unfortunate title of worst air quality in the world for the last few days. Throw in temps of 37’C – 43’C (100’F – 110’F) and it’s nasty.
The stats so far (until midnight on Jan 1st):
– 18 lives lost, 5 missing
– more than 235 fires still burning
– close to 6 million hectares burnt (over 23,000 square miles…basically West Virginia)
– more than 2,000 homes lost (in fact, whole towns have been lost)
– estimates of over 500 million native wildlife deaths
This drought has been short (only a few years) but it has been harsh. And while some of the fires have started by lightening, sadly many have been deliberately lit. Hopefully the drought will break soon and bring with it much needed rain which will put the fires out.
I know at our house we’ve only had annual totals of just over 200mm of rain each year for the last 2 years (about 8 inches) – our average is 630mm or just under 25 inches of annual rainfall.
The thing about Australia is that our drought is always broken by floods…