Severe thunderstorms are predicted to hit Queensland today, with intense weather in areas that have been ravaged by large bushfires in recent days. The unstable atmospheric conditions forming over central parts of the state are a result of warm, moist air colliding with a low-pressure trough sitting over the state. It is expected that the conditions may lead to the formation of supercells – intense, very large and dangerous thunderstorms. Winds may become destructive and very large hailstones are expected in some areas later in the day.
Flash flooding, fanned flames anticipated
While the rainfall is expected to bring an end to the intense heat wave, which enhanced fire danger significantly in previous days, authorities remain cautious of the possibility that the conditions may worsen in some areas. Heavy rainfall may extinguish blazes in some areas, bringing welcome relief. It may also lead to flash flooding, which is likely to be further exacerbated by fire damage.
Intense fires have killed large swathes of vegetation leading to weakened soil stability. Increased amounts of water are likely to enter streams because plants usually serve to capture some of the water from rainfall events. In addition, some fire-affected areas are likely to receive powerful winds and lighting without any accompanying rainfall. Wind direction may change, putting new communities at risk and increasing the difficulty of fighting the fires.
Since the end of the winter, three million hectares of land in Queensland has burnt. Previously unheard of conditions combined to create catastrophic bushfire risks over the weekend. Record-breaking heat waves in the state coincided with large storms and an intense low pressure system in New South Wales. Subsequently, this drove strong, warm winds into Queensland. With the heatwave expected to ease in the middle of the week, authorities hope fires will be under control soon.