Interview: Heavy rain brings relief to bushfire-hit communities across Australia's east coast

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-17 10:19:04|Editor: ZX
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SYDNEY, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Wide-spread thunderstorm systems moving across Australia's east coast are set to bring some much-needed relief to firefighting efforts on Friday, with even more rain predicted to fall over the weekend.

"We've got an inland trough... so we're getting a lot of monsoon activity moisture driven further south around New South Wales (NSW) State and southeastern Australia," Bureau of Meteorology Forecaster Abrar Shabren told Xinhua.

"The usual weather pattern that we have at this time of the year, that is what's triggering these inland troughs which are developing moisture, forming convective clouds, and that's why we're seeing a lot of thunderstorm activity."

Still locked in the gruelling battle against Australia's worst-ever bushfire crisis, the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) took to social media this morning to share their elation.

"Rain has fallen across most fire grounds over the last 24 hours which is great news! Our fingers are crossed that this continues over the coming days," the RFS said.

But, while authorities and fire-affected communities have collectively breathed a sigh of relief, the downpour is not expected to fully neutralize the bushfire threat.

Despite heavy rain and even flash flooding in some areas, there are currently 82 bushfires still burning throughout NSW, with a further 17 raging across the border in the State of Victoria.

"This rainfall will bring some relief to the firefighting efforts on the fire grounds but the rainfall is quite isolated at the moment though, around NSW, the Australian Capital Territory and parts of Victoria," Shabren explained.

"There's so many fires going on. We need a lot more rainfall in the coming days to extinguish or even or suspend those fires."

Likewise, it will also take much more rain to break the east coast's severe drought, which is now the worst on record, bringing heartbreak and uncertainty to the region's agricultural communities.

"With this rainfall... It's widespread in certain areas, but it's thunderstorm activity. It's not covering those large areas of Australia, particularly around the agricultural parts of Australia," Shabren said.

"For us to get out of the drought, we need much more prolonged rainfall in the coming days."

One thing that should improve for Australia's long-suffering residents however, is the thick smoke which has blanketed the east coast since October.

"For a temporary period, we will see that smoke go away, like we have seen in Canberra and in Sydney," Shabren said.

"But we may still have those hazy conditions as long as the fires are going on. In Victoria, we did see that even though there was rainfall, they had mist and smoke mixed together."