Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Fire and drought continue to threaten New South Wales

Published:  18 November, 2019

The threat of fire continues to hang over the wine growers of New South Wales, with Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology forecasting “severe fire dangers” for Tuesday in a number of regions, including Greater Hunter.

Temperatures are expected to reach close to 40 degrees, with humidity falling precipitately in some areas. It is expected to be down 9% in Mudgee, a spokesman for the Rural Fire Service told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Other regions where the threat level is “severe” include Greater Sydney, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, Central Ranges and Southern Ranges.

"Hot and dry westerly winds will generate elevated fire danger over eastern and central parts of NSW on Tuesday," the Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement.

There some 51 grass and bushfires burning across the state, the Herald is reporting, with no more than half of them under control. Two fires, including one in the Clarence Valley, are of particular concern.

Wine Australia has yet to issue any updates, but Angus Barnes, executive officer of the NSW Wine Industry Association, told the Herald: “[Members] are very concerned about the fire risk in the Hunter Valley. So much so the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association has postponed its annual general meeting on Tuesday.”

But with parts of Australia experiencing their third year of drought, fire is not the only threat to the country’s wineries.

In New South Wales and South Australia, the last 18 months have had the lowest levels of rainfall on record, the Bureau of Meteorology has revealed. For some areas, rainfall is down 40% on historic levels.

“The soil moisture levels are some of the lowest on record,” Barnes told the Wine Searcher website. "There are many vineyards without good access to water and these will suffer this vintage with the resulting smaller crop.

“Luckily, a number of areas that are irrigated through the big rivers still have almost all their entitlement of high security water so we should see a good crop from the warm inland regions.”

Image from @FRNSW, the Twitter feed of Fire and Rescue NSW, showing firefighters carrying out a backburn in an effort to contain a fire in Gospers Mountain. FRNSW is one of the “world’s largest urban fire and rescue services and is the busiest in Australia”.