A cool change is sweeping over bushfire-affected regions of Victoria and New South Wales, bring welcome relief to the ravaged communities across Australia.
In Mallacoota, East Gippsland, where 4,000 people were forced to seek shelter on the beach and four people are still missing, a roar went up on the public jetty when the wind change hit.
‘A cold front is moving across the south-east of Australia that will bring with it a strong southerly wind and cooler temperatures, ‘ Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Helen Reid confirmed.
Ms Reid said the cool change was slowly making it’s way up the east coast and was as far north as Jervis Bay, which is only 150km from the worst of the fires.
The Clyde Mountain fire is more than 31,000 hectares in size and is out of control.
She said while the lower temperatures would provide easing conditions for firefighters it also means the fire front will change direction which is a new challenge.
‘Temperatures are expected to drop going into Tuesday evening and will remain cooler on Wednesday in the 20s to 30s before climbing again to the 40s on Saturday.’
A southerly wind bringing a cool change is expected to sweep over bushfire-affected regions of Victoria and New South Wales over the New Year period
Bushfires are currently devastating to East Gippsland region of Victoria with about 200,000 hectares of land being affected
Eerie photos show Batemans Bay residents surrounded by thick smoke as they wait on the beach. Many people can be seen wearing scarves to shield their faces
‘The smoke haze is also expected to stick around with the smoke over the Tasman Sea currently being very thick and may drift up with the southerly.’
Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp confirmed the southerly change has caused the firefront to move away from the under siege Victorian town of Mallacoota.
On Tuesday morning as many as 4,000 people from the town were trapped on the beach as fires closed in on the area.
About 2,200 firefighters are on the ground fighting the blazes across New South Wales.
Weather experts have already confirmed smoke will cover Sydney on New Year’s Eve though premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed fireworks will go ahead.
Revellers are being warned to take care on Tuesday as the city is expected to hit 33C during the day before a blustery southerly change hits when the sun sets.
The Bureau of Meteorology is warning dust haze could blanket the city in the evening, possibly ruining the Sydney fireworks display.
Sydney’s western suburbs will feel the brunt of the extreme weather conditions with Penrith set to hit a high of 44C with the thickest smoke haze expected in the west.
The southerly change in the evening will bring the possibility of rain and a thunderstorm with 50km/h winds picking up in the evening.
Weather experts have confirmed smoke will cover Sydney on New Year’s Eve with extreme heat forecast before thunderstorms and wind hit in the evening
Revellers are being warned to take care on Tuesday as the city is expected to hit 33C during the day before a blustery southerly change hits when the sun sets
North-westerly winds will continue to push smoke into the city from the Gospers Mountain fire before the southerly hits about 8pm, bringing smoke from the South Coast.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has issued a Poor Air Quality Forecast alert for the entire day.
Another severe fire danger day is expected for Sydney with multiple weather warnings current for much of New South Wales.
NSW Police are warning that people risk being fined more than $2,000 if they are caught illegally using fireworks during the total fire ban period this New Year’s Eve.
With a very high to extreme fire danger forecast across parts of NSW, a total fire ban has been declared in 11 areas, including Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney Region, the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, Far South Coast, Monaro Alpine, Southern Ranges, Central Ranges, Northern Slopes, North Western, Southern Slopes and Eastern Riverina.
Due to the total fire ban anyone wishing to use fireworks in those areas is required to apply to the Rural Fire Service for an exemption.
State Emergency Operations Controller, Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys, said only those licensed – and who have been granted an exemption from the total fire ban rules – may use fireworks in NSW.
North-westerly winds will continue to push smoke into the city from the Gospers Mountain fire before the southerly hits about 8pm, bringing smoke from the South Coast
More than 110,000 fireworks will light up the Sydney skyline at midnight, while there will also be a family fireworks show at 9pm
‘I want to send a very clear message to those members of the general public who are thinking of setting off fireworks today: if you have not been granted an exemption you can expect to be dealt with under the full force of the law,’ he said.
‘That means you will be issued with an on-the-spot fine of $2,200, or if the matter goes to court you could receive a court-imposed penalty of up to $5,500 and/or up to 12 months gaol.
‘Using fireworks should be left to the professionals as they are dangerous and can cause significant injury or even death.
‘Police want everyone to enjoy New Year’s Eve festivities but to celebrate with safety mind, and to comply with the total fire ban,’ Deputy Commissioner Worboys said.
NSW Police also reminds people not to use marine flares unlawfully: flares are emergency warning signals, designed for a specific purpose. Anyone caught using a distress signal/marine flare without a legitimate purpose can receive an on-the-spot fine of $1,000.
Additionally, the penalty for disposing of cigarette butts illegally is doubled during a total fire ban, so those caught will be liable for a $1,320 fine.
Crowds of people pack the streets as they leave McMahons Point after viewing the midnight fireworks display on New Year’s Eve on New Year’s Eve on January 1, 2018
One person uses their phone to capture the red sun hanging low over the city of Sydney on December 19
Meanwhile, more than 400,000 revellers are expected to gather in Melbourne’s city centre to enjoy the New Year’s Eve fireworks celebrations, which were at risk of being called off.
The city’s temperature on Tuesday is forecast to drop to a maximum of 21C, which helped give the pyrotechnical show the green light despite calls to cancel them with bushfires ravaging the state.
But those in Melbourne will experience a mostly clear evening with temperatures lowering to the mid-teens by midnight.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the city’s annual fireworks show is safe to hold because of the cool change that came through late on Monday.
‘It’s about the balance of recognising that there are people that want to come together, that want to actually spend some time with others in celebration after what may have been a very, very tough time for them,’ Ms Capp said of Melbourne’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House during the midnight display
A view of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge shrouded in smoke on Decmber 19 in morning
Brisbane will also experience warm weather for New Year’s Eve with a slight chance of rain on Tuesday morning before hitting 30C during the day.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Jess Gardner is predicting good fireworks-watching weather for the city’s celebrations.
‘Brisbane will be clear with temperatures in the low-30s,’ she said.
Brisbane will welcome in 2020 with 100,000 people expected to watch the city’s biggest-ever New Year’s Eve celebrations.
The highlight will be a pyrotechnic rainbow, created by fireworks angled from nine firework-laden barges on the river.
Meanwhile, Queenslanders have been warned that those who illegally use or possess fireworks can be fined more than $53,000 or sentenced to six months in jail.
But those in Melbourne (pictured) will experience a mostly clear evening with temperatures lowering to the mid-teens by midnight
Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham said there was a heightened risk of illegal fireworks displays starting bushfires, especially as parts of the state were extremely dry.
‘Fireworks are part and paracel of the festive season, but the last thing anyone needs are serious injuries caused by illegal fireworks,’ Dr Lynham said.
Adelaide’s New Year’s Eve fireworks will go ahead despite calls for the displays to be cancelled in the light of the bushfires still burning across the state.
Residents will endure a partly cloudy morning before the sun shines in the afternoon with a maximum of 25C on Tuesday.
Temperatures are expected to lower to the high-teens on Tuesday evening with most of the state experiencing the cooler weather.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Jess Gardner is predicting good fireworks-watching weather for Brisbane’s (pictured) celebrations
The city’s main fireworks in Elder Park draw a big crowd each year and form part of the celebrations that also include performances by local artists and a special kids’ zone featuring family-friendly activities.
The Adelaide City Council says while it appreciates the suggestion to cancel the fireworks and reallocate the funding to bushfire relief, the event will go ahead as scheduled.
‘With the night now so close, many people would have already planned their trip into the city to watch the fireworks from the park or in one of the many venues adjacent to the riverbank,’ it said.
The council said instead of scrapping the fireworks, the thousands of people attending and others around the state were encouraged to donate to the St Vincent de Paul Society’s bushfire appeal.
Adelaide’s New Year’s Eve fireworks (pictured) will go ahead despite calls for the displays to be cancelled in the light of the bushfires still burning across the state
Funds raised by the appeal will help those impacted by recent fires across the state, especially those in the Adelaide Hills where more than 80 homes were destroyed in the lead-up to Christmas.
‘Our hearts go out to those impacted by the fires, and we share the community’s sadness and empathy for those affected,’ the council said.
While Hobart has been experiencing a record-breaking December with high temperatures, Tuesday will see partly cloudy conditions with rain and winds expected to pick up throughout the night.
Perth will experience sunny conditions and a maximum temperature of 30C before it lowers to the high-teens in the evening.
THE WEATHER IN YOUR CITY:
Tuesday: Max 34
Wednesday: Min 20, Max 25
Thursday: Min 21, Max 25
Friday: Min 22, Max 28
Saturday: Min 21, Max 33
Tuesday: Max 21
Wednesday: Min 14, Max 24
Thursday: Min 15, Max 27
Friday: Min 15, Max 35
Saturday: Min 23, Max 31
Tuesday: Max 30
Wednesday: Min 22, Max 31
Thursday: Min 23, Max 31
Friday: Min 21, Max 31
Saturday: Min 22, Max 30
Tuesday: Max 37
Wednesday: Min 13, max 35
Thursday: Min 13, Max 34
Friday: Min 15, Max 38
Saturday: Min 18, Max 42
Tuesday: Max 25
Wednesday: Min 13, Max 27
Thursday: Min 14, Max 34
Friday: Min 14, Max 42
Saturday: Min 20, Max 27
Tuesday: Max 23
Wednesday: Min 11, Max 23
Thursday: Min 15, Max 24
Friday: Min 13, Max 26
Saturday: Min 18, Max 31
Tuesday: Max 30
Wednesday: Min 16, Max 30
Thursday: Min 17, Max 27
Friday: Min 14, Max 24
Saturday: Min 12, Max 28
Tuesday: Max 35
Wednesday: Min 26, Max 34
Thursday: Min 25, Max 35
Friday: Min 26, Max 35
Saturday: Min 27, Max 35
Source: Bureau of Meteorology