Fireys rejoice ahead of record rain forecast
Firefighters across NSW are looking forward to sweet relief with the heaviest rain this summer set to give crews a helping hand after a tough few days of sweltering heat and gusty winds.
The rain bomb - which could mean more than 100mm of rain in parts of the state across the next week - has been greeted by exhausted fireys as "all of our Christmas, birthday, engagement, anniversary, wedding and graduation presents rolled into one".
Coupled with cooler conditions, the storm activity is set to give firefighters a chance to strengthen containment lines for some 40 bushfires which are not yet contained. More than 100 fires are still burning across the state and many will take some time to fully contain.
Light rains which began in Sydney on the weekend are set to continue into on Tuesday as a trough moving through inland NSW starts to create thunderstorms on Thursday and Friday.
Fire-grounds in the Hunter, Central Tablelands and across the state's northwest will receive the heaviest rainfall but firefronts along the devastated Illawarra, Batemans Bay and the NSW-Victoria border will also get badly- needed rain relief with up to 25mm expected to fall on the south coast on Thursday.
"What we will be seeing mainly from Thursday and onwards is the true effects of the predicted rain, with the eastern parts of the state increasing in thunderstorm activity," Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Jordan Notara said.
"On the weekend, we will see widespread showers and isolated thunderstorms in certain areas."
It was welcome news to NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman Anthony Bradstreet who said fire conditions were expected to ease throughout the week as a result.
"We would love rain everywhere," he said.
The RFS tweeted on Monday that "If this @BOM_NSW rainfall forecast comes to fruition then this will be all of our Christmas, birthday, engagement, anniversary, wedding and graduation presents rolled into one. Fingers crossed".
If this @BOM_NSW rainfall forecast comes to fruition then this will be all of our Christmas, birthday, engagement, anniversary, wedding and graduation presents rolled into one. Fingers crossed. #NSWRFS #nswfires pic.twitter.com/R9VfD0bqu2— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 12, 2020
However, Mr Notara said while rain would be welcome at the fire-grounds, the thunderstorms may also bring damaging winds of 90km/h or higher which "may be strong enough to fell large trees that have been damaged by fires".
Fires have destroyed more than 2000 homes in NSW this bushfire season, with more than half of those houses burnt down since New Year's Eve.
Air quality across much of the state was very poor on Monday as a result of smoke from the bushfires, with hazardous levels recorded in parts of Sydney's northwest, southwest, the Illawarra, Albury and Wagga Wagga.