Little reprieve for fires in WATristan Meyers, Saturday January 9, 2016 - 15:19 EDT
There is little relief in sight for firefighters battling the devastating fires in southwestern Western Australia.
Several bushfire alerts and warnings are in place for the South West, Great Southern and Perth region. This includes an emergency warning for East of Waroona, Hamel, Cookernup, Uarloop and surrounding areas in the Shires of Harvey and Waroona.
Winds have swung in a more northwesterly direction today, being slightly more favourable since the winds are more humid. This direction may additionally cause fires to burn back on themselves, limiting fuel supply.
However, potentially severe thunderstorms are now sparking to the north of the blaze, and are likely to migrate further south into the afternoon, towards the fire-affected regions. Thunderstorms present a mixed bag for firies. Localised, heavy rainfall can douse some embers. On the other hand, anyone who has witnessed a thunderstorm will know that strong wind gusts are common, but they can come from any direction depending on where the storm is relative to you. This may cause fires to start spreading in an unfavourable direction, or fling embers into the wind.
Finally, lightning presents a hazard of starting more fires. The bush in the southwestern corner of WA is dry, and lightning strikes are like a spark to kindling. Thankfully, the majority of thunderstorm activity looks to shift out of the region from Sunday, becoming unlikely from Monday.
The dominant wind direction will remain westerly for the coming days, pushing the fire towards the east. A cold front looks to cause a strong southwesterly wind change on Tuesday, bringing cooler air. Unfortunately, there is little moisture in this system, so only a few drizzly showers are likely.
© Weatherzone 2016
More breaking news
In the early hours of the morning, Brisbane had its warmest minimum temperature since at least 1999, when the mercury halted its descent at 28 degrees just after 3am.
Another intense low pressure system is set to impact New Zealand from this evening, with heavy rain and severe gales forecast.
Cattle stations in the Kimberley region of Western Australia have had an extremely wet start to 2017.