‘Extreme’ heat wave bakes western Australia raising bush fire risks

Australia’s recent fire seasons have been less severe than 2019-2020’s “Black Summer”

A rocky outcrop holds an Aboriginal shelter of significance in the Pilbara region of Western Australia where human habitation stretches back over 60,000 years, Gudai-darri, 1,120 kilometres (695 miles) northeast of Perth, Australia, October 19, 2023. — Reuters 

Over the weekend, parts of Western Australia experienced an “extreme” heat wave, which raised concerns about bushfires in the region prompting warnings from weather authorities.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued an “extreme heat wave warning” for the remote Pilbara and Gascoyne areas of Australia’s largest state, with temperatures expected to soar into the high forties degrees Celsius.

In the town of Paraburdoo, located in the Pilbara mining region, a maximum temperature of 47°C (116.6°Fahrenheit) was forecast on Saturday, more than six degrees above the average January maximum.

Australia’s highest temperature on record of 50.7°C (123.2°F) was logged at the Pilbara’s Onslow Airport on January 13, 2022.

According to Reuters, the high temperatures pose a risk of bushfires in an already high-risk fire season, especially given the El Nino weather pattern, which is often linked to extreme events such as wildfires, cyclones, and droughts.

It is essential to take precautions to stay safe during such extreme weather conditions.

“Very hot and dry conditions combined with fresh southerly winds and a fresh to strong west to southwesterly sea breeze will lead to elevated fire dangers on Saturday,” the weather forecaster said on its website, regarding part of the Pilbara.

The warning comes after hundreds of firefighters earlier this month battled an out-of-control bushfire near Perth amid soaring temperatures, prompting evacuations.

Australia’s last two fire seasons have been subdued compared with the 2019-2020 “Black Summer” of bushfires that destroyed an area the size of Turkey, killed 33 people, 3 billion animals and trillions of invertebrates.

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