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Early heat puts pressure on water

Early heat puts pressure on water

The Age
BRIDIE SMITH
November 9, 2009

MELBOURNE’S water storage is set to fall for the first time in four months this week, as a record string of hot November days coincides with reduced run-off and a lack of spring rain.

While catchments were still benefiting from last month’s falls, water flowing into reservoirs has gradually decreased.

This week’s warm temperatures and absence of rain will probably result in levels going backwards for the first time since July 1.
The heat brought the crowds out yesterday, with friends Bailey Reed (left), Jaylem Mure and Austin Whittaker making the most of the sunshine at Beaumaris Beach.

The heat brought the crowds out yesterday, with friends Bailey Reed (left), Jaylem Mure and Austin Whittaker making the most of the sunshine at Beaumaris Beach. Photo: Penny Stephens

”They will go down this week,” Melbourne Water spokesman Nicolas McGay said yesterday.

The last time storage decreased, supplies were at 26 per cent. Storage is now 38.1 per cent full, compared with 33.7 per cent this time last year.

Melbourne is in the middle of a four-day stint of 30-plus degree days – the first of the bushfire season and the most recorded for November in more than a century.

Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Scott Williams said the sustained warm spell was unusual for spring.

”We’ve got into more of a summer pattern,” he said. ”In November it’s not common to get long runs of 30-plus days. Four in a row is the most we’ve ever had – apart from 1896, when we had six days above 30 degrees.”

However, Mr Williams said the weather pattern did not offer any clues as to what summer might bring.

Melbourne temperatures this week will hover in the 30s to high 20s, with cooler temperatures around coastal areas, while northern parts of the state will remain in the mid-30s throughout the week.

Mr Williams said the last string of 30-plus degree days ended on February 1 and followed six days of heat – three of them in the 40s.

Meanwhile, two bushfires continued burning overnight: one in state forest two kilometres west of Mallacoota, which has burnt 530 hectares, and the other a 300 hectare blaze in national park land near Orbost.

A Department of Sustainability and Environment spokeswoman said the fires had closed some roads and campsites.

Authorities will be on alert ahead of today’s forecast of 34 degrees, although it will be cooler on the coast and neither fire posed a threat to property. Mr Williams said humidity levels would remain good for fire-fighting, with only moderate winds forecast.

While Victoria was enduring heat and fire, those affected by weekend flooding in the NSW mid-north coast areas of Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Kempsey and Nambucca Heads have been given emergency grants and loans from the Federal Government.

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