NSW, VIC: Bushfire concerns continue. Lightning strikes from mostly dry thunderstorms caused fresh concerns in northern NSW today, with a new fire 15km N of Mendooran burning through 10sq km and another in Pilliga State Forest 45km SW of Narrabri burning through 18sq km. The Goonoo forest fire north of Dubbo and west of the separate Mendooran blaze had burnt through 190sq km as it extended its boundaries to the west, north and east. Firefighters commented on the exceptional dryness of the forest, which has seen little rain in the past 8 months, and is encouraging erratic fire behaviour.
In VIC, cooler weather helped firefighters' containment activities, but the Tolmie fire, which headed south today threatening Toombullup, Archerton and Tolmie, broke through containment lines during the afternoon. The fire near Tom Groggin, between Corryong VIC and Thredbo NSW, jumped the Murray River from VIC into NSW today. The Great Divide southern section fire continued moving slowly east and south towards Ensay, Brookville and Bruthen.
WA: Records fall for heat in the south, cold in the north. WA was a state of extremes in temperature today, with parts of the south nearly 20C hotter than parts of the normally torrid inland northern deserts. The day began with overnight minimum temperatures in the Great Southern, Central Wheatbelt and Goldfields 6 to 10 above average. Ravensthorpe reported a low of 27.0, 13.1 above the norm. Although well above nearby stations, it seems plausible given a 9am temperature of 33C in a fresh NW wind and nearby minimum temperature reports of 23.2 at Newdegate (also a record) and 24.5 at Hyden (January record 26.3).
The maximum temperature anomaly chart shows that while top temperatures in SE WA were reaching 8 to 14 above average (42.6 at Norseman was the highest), an area of the Great Sandy Desert in NE WA and the neighbouring Tanami Desert in NT was experiencing highs 10 to 14 below. With heavy monsoonal cloud cover and rain, places like Balgo Hills, Halls Creek, Yuendumu and Yulara barely made the mid-20s. Balgo Hills' top of 24.6 was 2.5C lower than the previous coldest January day in 20 years. The map of actual maximum temperatures shows the dramatic reversal in the ordinary temperature distrubution.
WA, NT, QLD: Monsoon rains continue. The monsoon low in the southern Kimberley region of WA moved very slowly south, drawing the monsoon trough with it deeper into WA and the NT. The heavy rain reported yesterday contracted southeast across the Great Sandy Desert in WA and into the Tanami Desert of western NT. Balgo Hills WA reported 89mm between 9am and 3pm while Rabbit Flat NT recorded 50mm between 9am and 9pm in steady moderate rain. (The average totals for the whole month of January for these two stations are 69.1 and 100.0mm.) From western NT the monsoon trough stretched NE to the tip of Cape York Peninsula QLD, with reports of heavy showers and thunderstorms continuing across the Top End and around the Gulf. See downpours and wettest.