Canary in the coal mine part 2: Perth fires “out of control” and threaten homes; Victoria reels from floods

Children scream at their father to evacuate (The Australian)

While the Eastern seaboard is being flooded, in Perth they are battling fires. Residents we’re given just 20 minutes to flee from fires:

PEOPLE were given just 20 minutes’ warning that a rapidly moving bushfire would hit their homes yesterday, as a blaze swept through Perth’s southeastern suburbs, destroying or damaging at least 40 houses and threatening 100 more.

Firefighters tackled two massive fronts, which ignited at opposite ends of the city, after a hot spell and strong winds pushed the bushfires out of control.

Many homes in Roleystone and Kelmscott, on the city’s southeastern fringe, were ablaze.

The Fire and Emergency Services Authority said 40 homes were last night confirmed destroyed or damaged. There were unconfirmed reports that up to 60 properties had caught fire as the flames moved rapidly, generating massive plumes of smoke.

At least 12 people have been hospitalised with smoke inhalation.

On the northeastern fringe of the city, around the suburbs of Millendon, Brigadoon, Baskerville and Red Hill, another blaze threatened homes and more than 100 people were evacuated.

Thankfully there has been no loss of life, however we could see the number of homes lost climb:

“We haven’t had loss of life. We are grateful for that but certainly there’s a lot of trauma that goes with it.”

Mr McMillan said neither of the big fires are under control, and unpredictable and strong winds are expected this morning.

“Our struggle will remain until we get some respite in these unusual weather conditions,” he said.

“It’s just the strength of the easterly winds. They were at damaging strength two days ago and they have maintained the consistency.”

Relocation centres have been set up near both fires and residents of a nursing home in Kelmscott have been evacuated to a shopping centre.

Many roads have been closed in threatened areas and residents who have left will not be allowed back until the all-clear is given.

Photographer Paul Pichugin captures the intensity of the fires around Perth:

 

 

Perth Hills on fire (Source: Paul Pichugin)

 

While Perth burns, Victoria drowns

As I noted in previous posts, the floods in Victoria are unprecedented. The transport network has been thrown in chaos:

VICTORIANS are being urged to be patient and prepare for long delays when they return to work and school today, with authorities warning flood-damaged and closed roads could make this morning’s commute difficult.

Police, SES and VicRoads have asked drivers to consider leaving earlier or much later than usual this morning to help mitigate delays caused by road closures.

The impact of road closures would be worsened with tens of thousands of students returning to school.

Despite the rain knocking out ten train lines on Friday night, Metro said the damage had been repaired over the weekend and the network was running at full capacity today.

The badly disrupted Sandringham line was re-opened yesterday at 4.30pm and repairs to 10 damaged trains were finally completed. A V/Line spokeswoman said services returned to normal yesterday and were running on schedule this morning.

But as the morning peak hour began on the city’s roads today, VicRoads warned of major disruptions.

I’ve seen fire, and I’ve seen rain.

Australia is the canary in the coal mine.

Welcome to the Anthropocene

Being a blogger frees me from the usual reticence and qualified statements scientists usually (for good reason) make.

I may appear very foolish for saying this, but its time to call it: we’ve well and truly passed a threshold.

Call it climate change, or global warming. Or perhaps you could rename the planet as Bill McKibben suggests (Eaarth). Actually the name really doesn’t matter.

This is the new normal.

Even if we stopped all CO2 emissions tomorrow, there’s more than enough warming “in the pipe” for future “climate disruption”.

The Greenland ice sheet?

Most likely gone.

The Great Barrier Reef.

Most likely gone.

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5 thoughts on “Canary in the coal mine part 2: Perth fires “out of control” and threaten homes; Victoria reels from floods

  1. Steve Bloom says:

    But are there signs that the views of your local flying monkeys are changing as a consequence of all of this?

    Re attributing the confluence of major weather events to climate change, Krugman put it nicely:

    “Obligatory disclaimer: no one event can be definitively assigned to climate change, just as you can’t necessarily claim that any one of the fender-benders taking place right now in central New Jersey was caused by the sheet of black ice currently coating our roads. But it sure looks like climate change is a major culprit. And it’s not just the FSU: extreme weather elsewhere, which again is the sort of thing you should expect from climate change, has played a role in bad harvest around the world.”

    Don’t forget the Antarctic, Adelady, as some Aussie scientists just reminded us. This is actually quite ominous.

  2. adelady says:

    The AAA of climate change. Arctic. Amazon. Australia.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/The-2010-Amazon-Drought.html

    Oz isn’t the same kind of issue as the Arctic and the Amazon. But we are the only OECD country covering these climatic zones.

  3. john byatt says:

    “Being a blogger frees me from the usual reticence and qualified statements scientists usually (for good reason) make.

    I may appear very foolish for saying this, but its time to call it: we’ve well and truly passed a threshold.”

    Many scientists are saying this WtD and the rest are secretly agreeing

  4. Adam says:

    If someone who has smoked all their life dies of lung cancer we can never be 100% sure that it was their smoking that caused their premature death.

    The same ignorant argument will be forever used by deniers to claim that extreme weather events can never be guaranteed to be because of anthropogenic climate change.

    If bookmakers or insurance companies thought like deniers then their industries would collapse. Uncertainty in the components are real measures that must be recognised.

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