For our Geo Quiz we’re headed to Australia’s southernmost states. Can you name them?
It’s summertime down under in the southern hemisphere and scorching doesn’t begin to describe the current temperatures.
This region is suffering from soaring high temperatures and high winds this week. Temperatures have been hovering over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But that’s not the worst of it.
Hundreds of scattered bushfires are burning thousands of acres of forests and farmland. Australia’s battling those fires…in 5 of its 6 states.
We just want you to name the two southernmost states.
The Australian wildfires are dominating the news right now.
(ABC TV anchor) “Hello you’re watching ABC 24 In New South Wales residents are facing the worst fire threat in its history and conditions in some areas are rated as catastophic.”
In addition to New South Wales, 2 south eastern states have been worst hit by massive bushfires.
They are Victoria, and the island state of Tasmania — the answers to our Geo Quiz.
In southern Tasmania alone, 50,000 acres of forests and farmland have gone up in smoke. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed, too.
This man fled one of the fast moving fires on the island:
“We saw tornados of fire just coming toward us all around us, and the next thing we knew, everything was on fire, all around us.”
The widespread emergency has prompted authorities to raise the fire threat level for southern Australia to catastrophic.
The BBC’s Phil Mercer is following developments from Sydney.
“Here in New South Wales, firefighters are battling more than 130 outbreaks, 40 or those are out of control so a very serious situation. Fire crews in Victoria are also on hight alert. So this is a problem affecting much of southern Australia which is enduring the most dangerous fire conditions this part of the country has ever seen.”
Last year, parts of Australia were struggling with the opposite problem: too much wet weather. That’s actually making matters worse. All that rain boosted the growth of grasses and vegetation, and they’ve since dried up thanks to soaring temperatures and high winds providing plenty of fuel for the bushfires.
And then there’s heat lightning, says New South Wales fire chief Rob Rogers.
“We’ve had 2 days of a lot of lighting in the southern part of the state, we’ve had a lot of ignitions, so currently we have 99 fires on our books and more than 20 of those fires are not contained.”
It was 107 (F) degrees in Hobart, Tasmania, this week one of the hottest periods on record there going back to the 1880′s.
And in Sydney, Phil Mercer says today’s temperature was a scorching 109 (F):
“When you step outside here in Sydney its like walking into a furnace having a hot hand pressing down on your head and its not only the bushfires but heat related illnesses as well. The heat’s a potential killer to the elderly, the infirm, and the very young so these are dangerous times not only for people in the countryside, in bushfire prone regions but also in bigger towns and cities who are sweltering in this unprecedented heatwave.”
Agnieszka Radwanska would agree with that. The world’s fourth ranked player in women’s tennis is taking part in the Sydney International ahead of next week’s Australian Open. With temperatures courtside over 110 degrees today, Radwanska said it was just “too hot to play tennis.” But she played anyway, and advanced in the tournament despite the heat.
For many residents of south eastern Australia, it’s too hot to even think about tennis.
They have more pressing concerns, as Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard made clear.
“What everybody is worried about is that a day of extreme heat will fan those flames so the best advice is be ready be prepared have your plan in place if your property faces the worst.”
Amazingly, no deaths have been reported so far. But the hot, dry, and windy conditions are sticking around.
So Australian authorities aren’t letting their guard down. As one New South Wales firefighter put it: “You don’t get conditions worse than this. ”
Wildfires Rage Across Australia