Southerly change to provide temporary relief from haze, fire risks


“At this stage there is no need for alarm, but residents need to be aware of the potential for spot fires on our side of the river,” Hornsby Shire mayor Philip Ruddock said.

Jiwon Park, a meteorologist with the Bureau of Meteorology, said early on Saturday “could be complicated” on a cool change moved up from the south and passed through Sydney and up the coast.

“Probably that’s going to clear the haze that we saw [on Friday]”, Mr Park said. “It will be fresh southerlies, not really a southerly buster [like the one that reached Sydney earlier this week].

Heavy smoke from the Wollemi fire was being blown across Sydney and the Central Coast on Friday evening. Air pollution levels had improved by Saturday morning, though, with “fair” to “poor” the worst readings.

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RFS issued an alert warning that the southern side of the fire was heading towards Colo Heights and also heading to Yengo Drive on the northern side.

Authorities had earlier brought in the Large Air Tanker to help protect properties in the area.

Parts of the state continued to battle a range of challenges thrown up by fires that in some areas have been blazing for weeks.

The other emergency warning alerts were for the Myall Creek Road fire in the Richmond Valley, the Carrai East blaze near Kempsey and the Guyra Road fire at Ebor in the Armidale district.

Police said a man had been arrested after allegedly lighting the fire that was now threatening Ebor. They arrested a 51 year-old Ebor man on Friday afternoon and remained in custody at the Armidale Police Station as of Friday evening as their enquiries continued.

Elsewhere, the popular Tough Mudder event planned for the Glenworth Valley in the Central Coast region over the weekend was cancelled on Friday as “a major bushfire” advanced toward the site, organisers said.

Further north, parents of children in Port Macquarie were being called to collect their children as at least eight public schools in the areas closed because of soaring air pollution on Friday.

Terry Muldoon, principal of the St Columba Anglican School, said his school avoided the shutdown because its classrooms were airconditioned.

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“Last Thursday and Friday, everything was red and orange,” Mr Muldoon said. “Today, everything’s a blanket grey.

“If it’s this bad again, we’d seriously consider closing on Monday,” Mr Muldoon said.

The government’s air monitor at Port Macquarie was registering readings for small particles at 1840 on Saturday morning. That compared with a “hazardous” threshold at 200.

Sydney’s fire danger will drop to “high” on Saturday, while total fire bans and “severe” fire risks remain for the north-eastern districts of the state, the RFS said.

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The cooler, breezier conditions will last over the weekend for Sydney before temperatures start to climb again.

Tuesday is likely to be the peak of the coming week’s heat for the metropolitan region, with 39 degrees predicted for Penrith and 40 possible by Thursday. Sea breezes will cap the mercury to 25-30 degrees for coastal suburbs for much of next week, the bureau said.

Little rain is expected in the coming week although a thunderstorm late on Sunday morning or early afternoon may bring a short burst of heavier falls for parts of Sydney, more likely on the coast, Mr Park said.

From Tuesday to Thursday, a large portion of Australia will be in the midst of at least a low-intensity heatwave.

By the middle of next week, a large area of Australia will be in a heatwave of varying severity.

By the middle of next week, a large area of Australia will be in a heatwave of varying severity.Credit:BoM

The latest data shows the big blazes on the Mid North Coast and in the Wollemi National Park had pushed the tally of burnt regions this season to beyond 1.3 million hectares.

That’s the most since about 1.5 million hectares were blackened in 2002-03, the RFS said.

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