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ARTICLES >> Environment Weather Watch

Weather Watch - Feb 2012

Posted by Bestprac on Feb 07 2012

By Susan Carn

This year had an exciting start for the Carn’s - the wrong kind of excitement – a Bushfire!

It was located between our home, just south of Quorn, and Wilmington. Although it didn’t ever get closer than about 10kms, it was still rather frightening for me. Ben was off fighting it for most of two days, leaving me with nothing to do but make a “leaving plan” and track the fire and weather on the internet.

Here’s a list of sites I found useful:

Bureau of Meteorology

  • Latest Weather Observations for Port Augusta
    This is our nearest weather station. Info is issued every 30 minutes.
    Shows current temperature, humidity, wind direction and speed etc.
  • Forecast Wind
    Shows forecast wind direction and speed in 3 hourly blocks for up to 7 days.
    With these 2 sites I was able to roughly work out if or when the fire could be coming my way.
  • Forecast Rainfall
    This made me feel better when I saw there was a good chance of rain on the 3rd day! It was correct and, combined with a wind change, put the fire out.


South Australian Country Fire Service (All states have their own rural fire services websites.)

  • Current Incident List
    Regularly updated with bulletins and status of fire.
    They are also on Facebook where, on the days of the Wilmington fire, some fantastic photos were posted by firefighters and landowners.

My photos were taken on the second day of the fire. The first one shows the plume of smoke from my place, about 2pm, looking towards Wilmington in the south. The second was taken about 5pm and the whole sky was full of smoke and I couldn’t see any of the surrounding hills. Scary!


Now for a look at what the oceans and atmosphere are up to:

  • The current La Nina has started to decay. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) peaked in December at 22.2 and is now back around 10. It is expected that from now on the SOI will return to more neutral values.
  • However, La Nina could have a sting in its tail as the BOM’s experimental POAMA model is suggesting a wetter than average February/March/April for WA, SA and QLD.
  • Cool Autumns often follow La Nina events, and that is what the JAMSTEC model from Japan predicts.
  • The JAMSTEC model also has good news regarding rainfall for most of Australia this year. It predicts that a weak negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) will evolve in early winter and then peak in spring. This could mean above average rainfall for parts of Australia.
  • The signs are there for the possibility of a neutral Pacific combined with warm water in the west Indian ocean. This could mean an average to above average winter/spring.

It’s early days, but as they say “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire”!

Last changed: Feb 08 2012



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