VIC, NSW: Fires continue to grow. The Tatong fire SE of Benalla VIC had burnt through 110sq km by this evening, nearly twice the area consumed as at yesterday morning. Erratic windy conditions caused the main fire to flare up periodically and spot well ahead to the northeast. 300 firefighters with aerial support worked on the fire today. VIC Department of Sustainability and Environment spokesman Kevin Monk told AAP today that the fires in that state had consumed over 1 million hectares (10,000sq km), including 33 homes, 62 outbuildings, 153 other buildings, 1200km of fencing, three hectares of vineyards, 649 hectares of crops, 1100 hectares of pine plantation and 1000 livestock.
A fire that was started by two lightning strikes yesterday afternoon in the Goonoo Community Conservation Area, a natural bush area to the north and NE of Dubbo NSW, had consumed over 50sq km by late today and was threatening the villages of Boomley, Elong Elong, Ballimore and Mendooran on its southern and eastern flanks. About 100 firefighters and 6 fixed-wing waterbombing aircraft worked on the fire today, which was spotting up to half a kilometre ahead of the main firefront.
WA, NT, QLD: Substantial but patchy rain across the tropics. The rainfall chart shows the extensive but variable rain that has fallen over the 24 hours to 9am across the tropics in response to the monsoon trough across the north of the continent and a second trough through western QLD. The highest 24 hour total was 113mm at Highbury Station, 250km WSW of Cooktown on Cape York Peninsula, the highest January fall at the station since its January record of 272.8mm on 23 January 1979. Heavy rain also began falling in the WA Kimberley, with Broome receiving 39.6mm over two hours to 1.30am, and Moola Bulla, 20km WNW of Halls Creek, recording a 24-hour total of 52mm to 9am.
QLD: Unusual record for Rockhampton. The overnight grass minimum temperature at Rockhampton Airport was 25.9C, the highest for January in the 53 years that these measurements have been made there, and only 0.3 below the all-time record. The grass, or terrestrial, minimum temperature is measured by a standard minimum thermometer exposed overnight at grass-tip level while the normally-reported air minimum temperature is registered by a thermometer exposed in a louvred Stevenson Screen about 1m above ground level. Outward radiation overnight usually results in the grass minimum being several degrees - sometimes 5 to 7 degrees - lower than the screen minimum. Rockhampton's screen minimum this morning was also 25.9, only 3.8 above the norm, so why was the grass minimum the highest in half a century? Assuming the reading is correct (and it is yet to be verified), the most likely causes are that the night was heavily overcast, thus defeating outgoing radiation, and a steady light to moderate breeze was present throughout the night which would have kept the air at all levels well mixed.