Asia Minute: Australia’s Rains Dousing Bush Fires

Feb 13, 2020

The spread of the coronavirus has knocked a number of other international stories out of the news. One of those stories centers on the fires that burned through huge parts of Australia.

It’s been raining in much of Australia, and especially in some parts of the country that were recently hit hard by bush fires.

The states of New South Wales and Queensland have both seen a lot of rainfall this week. Sydney recently had more than 15 inches over four days — the heaviest in thirty years. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology reports that over the weekend alone, Sydney’s rainfall was three times its usual average for the entire month of February.

The western part of the country has had its own heavy storms in the form of a cyclone that made landfall over the weekend.

Both weather systems caused extensive flooding, but there was also a bright spot — dousing fires.

In the east, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service reports that 30 fires have been extinguished entirely — leaving only four others “uncontained,” which officials hope will be under control by the end of this week.

Another cyclone is making its way near the east coast of Australia in coming days, although forecasters believe it will not make landfall.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation quotes a state climatologist as saying the rain has been uneven, with coastal areas getting a lot of it and inland regions getting much less — adding that sustained but less intense rainfall would help ease the country’s historic drought.