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Forecast of high winds prompts thunderstorm asthma warning for south-western Victoria

Saturday December 5, 2020 - 15:07 EDT
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The SES is warning people to secure standing umbrellas and outdoor furniture before the high winds hit. - ABC

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has issued a thunderstorm asthma warning for the state's south-west weather district as a squally change crosses the state.

The "high risk" warning for this afternoon was issued because of the combination of high grass pollen levels and the chance of thunderstorms accompanied by strong winds.

"There is a chance that a large number of people may develop asthma symptoms over a short period of time," a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said.

"People with asthma or hay fever, or who experience wheezing, breathlessness, a feeling of tightness in the chest or a persistent cough, should have their reliever medication with them at all times today; and avoid the wind gusts before the storm, by going inside and closing your windows and doors."

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a , including the south-west, the north, central and alpine areas.

A squally wind change is moving across the state, with strong northerly winds ahead of the front and squally westerly winds behind it.

The strongest wind gusts so far today were 98 kilometres per hour at Mount William in the Grampians, this morning.

Peak winds of up to 100kph are possible in storms, the bureau said.

There is also a total fire ban current in the Mallee and Wimmera forecast districts.

It has been four years since the first major episode of thunderstorm asthma in Victoria which led to 10 deaths. Over 3,500 people presented at hospital emergency departments seeking treatment.

? a high pollen count combined with a gusty storm.

Grass pollens get sucked up into a storm and burst open releasing asthma-causing fragments.


© ABC 2020

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