(CNN) – There are violent thunderstorms in some regions of Australia that have been hit by historic wildfires with heavy rain and heavy hail.
The storms could bring the much-needed relief to firefighters struggling with the country’s worst flames for decades. However, according to forecasters, it is not yet clear whether the rain will fall where it is most needed in the coming days or whether there will be enough of it to make a difference in areas affected by fire and drought.
So far it hasn’t rained enough to put out the fires, and the lightning from the storms have sparked new flames.
The authorities also fear that massive flooding could result in severe flash floods, as some regions are so dry after years of drought that the rain is only flowing off the ground. The massive fires have also blown away part of the vegetation that would normally soak up the rainfall.
The Victoria State Emergency Service has posted several images on Facebook showing storm damage, including a 4-meter-deep sinkhole that had opened.
Parts of Melbourne were hit with up to 77 millimeters of rain, which resulted in flooding and some damage, the Victoria Bureau of Meteorology said on Thursday. Nine News, a subsidiary of CNN, reported that some parts of the city were hit by a month of rain in a matter of hours, but not in East Gippsland, where some of the state’s worst fires are raging.
In New South Wales (NSW) in northern Victoria, more than 10,000 homes and businesses lost power due to the storm on Thursday. However, the storms also helped the authorities fight the flames. The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) said on Twitter on Thursday that “although this rain doesn’t put out all the fires, it will certainly go a long way toward containment.”
The RFS earlier this week said that if the rain forecasts were correct, it could be a panacea for the region’s firefighters.
“These will be all of our Christmas, birthday, engagement, anniversary, wedding and graduation gifts in one,” said Monday on Twitter. “Fingers crossed.”
Haze blankets Melbourne
The fires that broke out in Victoria and New South Wales throughout the summer are among the most powerful and harmful fires that Australia has had in decades.
Nationwide, at least 28 people have died and more than 3,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged in the state of New South Wales (NSW) alone. State and federal agencies are struggling to contain the massive flames, although other countries, including the United States, are helping to fight the fire.
All of this was exacerbated by persistent heat and drought due to climate change. Tens of thousands of people took part in protests across the country last week and urged the government to do more to combat the climate crisis.
The situation is bad. Significant amounts of flora and fauna that only exist in Australia have been burned or killed. A group of ecologists estimated that perhaps a billion animals were affected nationwide. Water has become scarce in some cities. Others went up in flames.
Major cities like Sydney and Melbourne have been spared the worst damage, but are still affected.
Both were covered by the fires in the haze, although the rain appears to be clearing some of it. Smoke has already affected the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne and canceled some of the training sessions. The Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic had to retire after breathing difficulties.
In recent years, extreme temperatures in tennis’s first Grand Slam of the calendar year have created tough conditions – some competitors collapsed at the 2018 event or complained of heat stroke.
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