VIC: Fire situation continues to be grim. The fire started by lightning yesterday at Tatong, SE of Benalla, was erratic overnight, spotting well ahead of the main blaze, and by midday today had burnt through about 60sq km. The northern section of the Great Divide fire burnt to within 200m of the long-suffering alpine village at Mt Baw Baw today, while a number of villages and settlements north of Bairnsdale and Bruthen experienced ember attack overnight as gusty winds following a front caused spotting from the southern section of the fire.
NSW: Heat, storms and bushfires. A trough through the middle of the state moved only very slowly eastwards today, bringing widespread but mostly dry thunderstorms, heat and bushfires. Temperatures in the northwesterly flow ahead of the trough reached over 40C, topping out at 44.6 at Jerrys Plains in the Hunter, the town's highest January temperature in 47 years of records. Among other records to fall was the maximum of 42.5 at Burrinjuck Dam, the station's all-time high in a 43-year history. Bourke and Parkes also reported over 44C. Canberra's top of 40.5 was the third-highest ever recorded in the capital, and the highest since the all-time record of 42.2 was set on 1 February 1968. The heat led to a blackout affecting 700 properties in Kingston, Manuka and Griffith. See records and the State Extremes page for more details of the high temperatures.
A severe thunderstorm early afternoon gave Coonabarabran a wind gust of 124km/h before dumping 19mm on the town. Most of the storms produced little if any rain, but gave firefighters concerns as lightning sparked bushfires. Seven fires were started in an area south and west of Cooma: in Kosciuszko National Park, in bushland south of Cooma and across the border in VIC at Mt Tennyson and Hermit Mountain. Another near Lake George burnt through 1sq km and disrupted traffic on the Federal Highway.
QLD: Heavy storms, dust accompany troughs. The combination of a monsoon trough along the north coast of the continent and a second trough lying through SW QLD produced widespread patchy but heavy storm and shower rainfalls today. Toorak Research Station, between Winton and Cloncurry in NW QLD, recorded 209.2mm in the 24 hours to 9am, the station's highest total in a 54-year history. Other high totals across the north included 97.0mm at Richmond PO and 83.0 at Devoncourt Station, 100km SE of Mt Isa. Farther inland, Winton PO recorded 57.6mm, and a drought-affected cattle-producer at an unidentified location in the state's west told ABC Radio he had had 97mm in a storm, "the biggest single fall we've had in eight years". An early morning storm gave Clermont in the Central Highlands 43mm between 6 and 9am.
The trough through SW QLD was dragged eastwards during the day, receiving a tow from the southern latitude frontal system passing south of NSW. Lengthy dust storms were reported with its passage from Birdsville, Windorah and Bollon, with visibility as low as 100m (see Noteworthy Observations page). St George received 51mm from a lengthy storm ahead of the trough between midday and 3pm.
NT: Cool and wet in the south. The trough lying through southern NT produced some of the best rainfall in a year overnight and today. Yuendumu, 270km NW of Alice Springs, reported 81.1mm over the 48 hours to 9am Saturday. Farther north at Tennant Creek, heavy rain began falling late this morning and continued on and off overnight into Saturday, with 68.6mm reported in the gauge at 9am Saturday. 150km south at Ali Curung, 82.2 was measured over the same period, 34mm of which fell between 3 and 9pm today. The rain and heavy cloud cover kept maximum temperatures 6 to 8 below average in the area.