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After months of devastating bushfires Australia is finally getting rain, but experts fear it won't stop the fires, and may lead to new extreme weather conditions

Published by Business Insider on Thu, 16 Jan 2020


Australia is finally getting rain ' but it's likely not enough to extinguish the fires devastating the country and might result in its own extreme weather.Firefighters have welcomed the rain in areas like Victoria and New South Wales, where they say it is helping to weaken fires.But it is not enough to extinguish the blazes across the country that have killed at least 29 people, and an estimated one billion animals.The rain has caused some flooding and damage, and authorities are warning that the heavy rain on burnt and destroyed ground could cause flash flooding and mudslides, while lightning sparks new fires.Rain is also unlikely to bring an end to the three-year drought that helped the fires form and spread so farForecasts suggest it could be months before enough rain falls to end the drought.Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.Rain and hail is falling in parts of Australia, but forecasters fear it won't stop the country's devastating bushfires, and could create new dangerous weather conditions like flooding and landslides.Storms have brought rain and hail to areas like Victoria and New South Wales, a change in weather patterns in Australia, which has been suffering unprecedented fires for months after a prolonged season of drought.The fires have killed at least 29 people, killed an estimated one billion animals, and burned more than 25 million acres of land.Fire services said this precipitation will help to weaken fires in those areas, though it won't actually put them out.This video, shared by 9 News presenter Jo Hall, shows heavy rain falling in Melbourne:Unbelievable - after the smoke haze that has engulfed our city some parts of Melbourne have received a month's worth of rain in half an hour this afternoon @9NewsMelb pic.twitter.com/0klFgaQgRG' Jo Hall (@Jo_Hall9) January 15, 2020To make matters worse, the rain that has fallen so far has caused some flooding and damage. Forecasts suggest the flooding could get even worse, and cause even more devastation after months of fires.Lightning from the storms has also in some case started new fires, CNN reported.New South Wales' Rural Fire Service tweeted on Friday that "although this rain won't extinguish all fires, it will certainly go a long way towards containment." It said that 85 fires were still raging across the state, with 30 still out of control.Relief is here for a number of firefighters working across NSW. Although this rain won't extinguish all fires, it will certainly go a long way towards containment. This footage was captured down at the Good Good Fire burning near Cooma. #nswrfs #nswfires pic.twitter.com/fxV9u2hN6K' NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 16, 2020The fire service had looked toward to rain on Monday, when it tweeted that, if forecasts held true: "This will be all of our Christmas, birthday, engagement, anniversary, wedding and graduation presents rolled into one."These guys are happy - 6 month old calves feeling #rain for the first time @ABCRural pic.twitter.com/95JoCJJvMk' Eliza Goetze (@elizagoetze) January 16, 2020Heavy rain and hail in Melbourne caused more than 100 people to call emergency services for help, Sky News Australia reported, as the city faced flash flooding and thunderstorms.This new weather is just a small sign of the conditions that forecasters and emergency services are warning of if more rain falls as expected.Heavy rail on burnt areas could create flash flooding and mudslides, while the rain is unlikely to reverse the drought conditionsKevin Parkyn, a senior meteorologist with Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, said on Wednesday:"This is a day that we are quite concerned about."He told reporters about the risks of damaging winds, heavy rainfall and large hailstones around Melbourne, Reuters reported."Thunderstorms are a bit of a double-edged sword. While they can bring some much-needed rain, [the rain] can also come down in very fast, high quantities," he said.Sky News Weatherchief meteorologist Tom Saunders warned there is potential for "supercell storms" to form."By Monday, a cut-off low pressure system will bring widespread heavy rain and we could see widespread severe weather with damaging wind gusts, further flash flooding and we could even see supercell storms," he said."So there's going to be some big rain."He also warned of severe weather in Victoria: "These storms are slow moving and there's a high amount of moisture so that means flash flooding will be the main threat from these storms over the next few days.""In areas impacted by fires where vegetation has been destroyed, water from heavy rainfall can flow into riverbeds and we could see run-off in areas we wouldn't normally, resulting in flash flooding.And Paul Bailey, the assistant commissioner of the New South Wales State Emergency Service, also warned of the potential effects of the rain: "While the rain is welcomed, heavy rainfall and storms in fire affected areas can lead to dangerous conditions such as a higher risk of flash flooding, falling trees and landslips."In areas impacted by fires where vegetation has been destroyed, water from heavy rainfall can flow into riverbeds and we could see run-off in areas we wouldn't normally, resulting in flash flooding."The NSW SES is also asking residents in fire affected areas to watch for possible landslips as the ground and roads can be damaged, therefore creating a higher risk of a potential slip."Australia's Nine News reported that some neighborhoods have already been hit by a month's worth of rain in just a few hours.Rain is also forecast for areas like Sydney, but less is forecast for some areas where the fires are biggest.And the Australian Bureau of Meteorology warned on Thursday that more rain than what is forecast will be needed to end the country's severe drought, which has been running for three years.Ben Shepard, a spokesman for the NSW Rural Fire Service, said rainfall was "brilliant" but added: "We're under no illusion, though, that this will break the drought," The Sydney Morning Herald reported.Read more about Australia's fires:Australia's bushfires are producing so much smoke that NASA expects it to travel all the way around the world and return to AustraliaThousands of Australians are calling for their prime minster's resignation. He's vowed to keep exporting coal, despite the link between fires and climate change.Devastating images of burned koalas and wallabies are emerging from Australia as 1 billion animals are feared deadAustralia's bushfires are ravaging the country. Here's how it all happened.Join the conversation about this storyNOW WATCH: A 45-year-long study discovered trends in successful hyper-intelligent children
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