Thu 16 Aug 2018 2018 NSW, VIC: Bushfires an omen of worst fire season in a decade. Bushfires flared in coastal NSW and eastern VIC on Wed 15th in a foretaste of the menacing conditions in store for drought-stricken eastern Australia. In NSW, total fire bans were declared in Sydney, the Hunter and Illawarra as 830 firefighters fought over 70 grass and bushfires from Casino to the VIC border.
Properties were lost in the three largest and most serious ones which peaked during the afternoon. Near Bemboka in the Bega Valley, two houses and two outbuildings were destroyed while fires near Ulladulla and Nowra damaged one house and destroyed 12 outbuildings. The fires received global coverage through Reuters, which quoted NSW Rural Fire Service Inspector Ben Shepherd as saying the size and number of fires in Australia [at present] were typical of late summer. “We’re seeing fires on the far south coast (of New South Wales) that we wouldn't typically see until sometimes as late as January or February, so what we’re seeing is very unusual,” he said.
In VIC, about 140 firefighters battled a blaze at Cape Conran, SE of Orbost. Country Fire Authority chief officer Steve Warrington told ABC News that "For the first time ever we'll introduce restrictions in Gippsland as early as September." He warned that "Our primary concern is Gippsland, the north-eastern parts of Victoria as well, the Otways and certainly along the Murray" in a season that was shaping up to be the worst in a decade.
Thu 16 Aug 2018 BoM Seasonal Forecast is for worsening drought. The BoM's mid-month Climate Outlook update offers little cheer for an end to the drought affecting much of eastern Australia and parts of the west. It forecasts that SW WA, SE Australia, and parts of central QLD will have a drier than average spring when averaged over the whole season, while temperatures will be above normal. A brief video from the BoM is here, while the full Outlook is here* and an archive of it is here.
Thu 16 Aug 2018 2018 NSW: Emus head into town. Wildlife is doing it tough in the drought, too, and ABC News reports some mobs in western NSW have moved in to Broken Hill to take advantage of the cushy lifestyle of its 17,800 human inhabitants. They've been reported doing laps of the main street, enjoying (eating) the gardens and participating in football matches. One local told the reporter "I'd rather put up with kangaroos and emus than magpies, we're just lucky emus don't swoop!"