Bushfires, cyclone, torrential rain hit Australia’s coasts

Fallen branches and trees sway as tropical cyclone Damien hits Dampier, Western Australia, February 8, 2020, in this still image from video obtained via social media. Video taken February 8, 2020. Nigel Gibson via REUTERS

Severe bushfires burned through parts of Western Australia on Sunday, with other areas of the state dealing with the aftermath of a powerful cyclone, while the country’s east coast was facing potential life-threatening flash flooding.

After months of destructive wildfires that have razed millions of hectares of land, Australia has been hit in recent weeks by wild weather that has alternately brought heavy downpours, hail storms, gusty winds and hot and dry air.

A pedestrian braves strong wind and rain in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

About a dozen fires were burning in Western Australia on Sunday, with severe fire danger expected in several districts, according to fire services and the state’s Bureau of Meteorology.

Daytime temperatures in some of the districts were forecast at up to 42 degrees Celsius.

The state’s upper parts were battling on Sunday the aftermath of a tropical cyclone Damien that made landfall on Saturday afternoon, bringing gusty winds of up to 200 km per hour.

No immediate damages were reported and the cyclone was expected to weaken as it moved inland, but winds were seen to blow at more than 100 kph.

Pedestrians brave strong wind and rain in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

On the opposite coast of Australia, Sydney and the state of New South Wales were in danger of potentially life-threatening flash flooding as the rain kept bucketing down for the third day in a row in downpours not seen since 1998.

Rainfall in some parts of the state approached half the annual average, but the falls were welcomed after the state saw its driest year on record in 2019, at 55% below average.