Friday’s Rain May Cause More Issues For Victorian Firefighters Than It Solved

victoria rain bushfires

While many of us thought Friday afternoon’s downpours were an absolute godsend for our exhausted, it turns out the rain could actually pose a whole heap of new issues for our emergency service workers.

Victoria saw between 5-10mm of rain in most areas on Friday, which is far less than what we’d need to actually extinguish the blazes that are currently devastating much of the state. And to make matters worse, rainfall can also be really uneven, with only 2mm falling in fire-ravaged Mallacoota, while Bairnsdale in East Gippsland saw a heavy 18mm.

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Although the rainfall seemed like the sigh of relief we’d all been waiting for, Bureau of Meteorology spokesman Jonathan Howe told 9News that it can actually be quite the opposite.

“With the little bit of rainfall, it can make access to the fire sites more difficult for firefighters – it is a bit of a double-edged sword,” he said.

Essentially, the fires have ripped through most of the state (and country), leaving fewer trees and less vegetation to soak up the rainfall, which can increase the chance of dangerous flash flooding.

“Especially with some heavy rainfall, a lot of the trees are gone and so the ground just isn’t able to soak up the excess (water).”

According to the ABC, authorities are warning that forecasted storm could post an “exceptionally dangerous” flash flooding risk over the coming week, which could add to an already devastating start to the year for some parts of Victoria.

“It sounds bizarre in this situation when you have fire … the problem with the flash flooding is that given the scale of the burn that is out there, you see massive run-off,” Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said. “But it’s also exceptionally dangerous for our firefighters and emergency service workers … in the past we’ve seen deaths.”

Minister Lisa Neville also warned people in fire-impacted areas to take caution when drinking from rainwater tanks, as the ash that’s been filling the sky for weeks could’ve ended up in the water supply, which could be potentially dangerous to consume.

Thankfully, it’s not all bad news, with the Bureau of Meteorology confirming that lots of fire-impacted communities have benefited from yesterday’s downpour.

At the time of publishing, 19 fires burn throughout Victoria, with an estimated 1.3 million hectares of land burnt.