As Sydney chokes under a thick blanket of smoke, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has warned “grim” fire conditions could see the haze linger throughout summer.
Speaking to PEDESTRIAN.TV this morning, meteorologist Helen Kirkup said “Every ingredient we kind of need to have this continue is there.”
For weeks, Sydney has been subjected to heavy smoke blown over from fires burning to the city’s west.
The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has issued air-quality warnings for haze-affected areas, advising residents against strenuous outdoors activity. The ABC reports ambulance call-outs for respiratory issues have spiked in recent weeks.
At 39000 ft , we could smell Australia long before we saw it . Perhaps 300 miles out. And it smelt of bushfires. Then as we came in to land , it looked more like the End of Days. pic.twitter.com/d5MjwnnBqL
— Sam Neill (@TwoPaddocks) December 3, 2019
very normal (no filter) photo of sunset in sydney ???? pic.twitter.com/LyB3wOf31i
— Brynn O'Brien (@brynnobrien) December 3, 2019
That coverage will persist as long as westerly winds pick up smoke from bushfires raging through Blue Mountains region, Kirkup said.
Those winds are expected to carry on until Friday – at least.
“Essentially the haze is going to be around, and it’s not going to disappear, but the denser smoke will stay to the west,” Kirkup said.
#Smoke from NSW #bushfires streams into the Tasman Sea this morning. A Poor Air Quality Alert has been issued for #Sydney, with smoke forecast to continue until Saturday. Latest air quality information for Sydney and regional areas: https://t.co/3hd7wtEbj6 pic.twitter.com/aY6G6qT3X3
— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) December 3, 2019
Kirkup said the potential of southerly winds from Saturday might be a mixed blessing, too.
“Even if that wind turns southerly, the fires that are out in the Blue Mountains, their smoke will go to the north, but we may be impacted by the ones on the South Coast because there’s so much smoke coming out of them,” she said.
“Broadly, it’s looking a bit grim.”
While the BoM cannot predict smoke coverage for coming months, Kirkup said the expected fire conditions won’t help matters one bit.
“We are looking at a below-average rainfall summer so that’s not going to help anything,” she said.
“We are expecting, once it’s dry and it’s getting hot, we are going to have bad fire conditions persist through the summer.”
Folks in haze-affected areas are advised to keep an eye on official air quality ratings.Image: Steve Christo / Corbis / Getty Images