Extreme storm, heat and bushfire conditions force school closures and prompt health warnings

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

Extreme weather warnings in parts of Australia have sparked health and safety concerns for communities and schools in some regions.

In New South Wales (NSW), six schools are closed today, as large areas of the state prepare for extreme bushfire conditions. Around 50 fires continue to burn at the advice level around NSW, including one on the Far South Coast that has burnt more than 7,200 hectares of land, and destroyed two homes.

The extreme fire danger warnings and total fire bans have been issued for Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter and the north-west regions, as well as both the Lower and Upper Central West Plains districts. There is a total fire ban also in place for the Northern Slopes region, with the rest of the state’s fire danger rating listed as ‘high’.

“We are expecting to see some quite hot, dry and incredibly windy conditions as we start to see this elevated fire danger for most of NSW,” NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Inspector Ben Shepherd said.

- Advertisement -

The schools closed in NSW today include:

  • Girilambone Public School
  • Hermidale Public School
  • Marra Creek Public School
  • Quambone Public School
  • Tooraweenah Public School
  • Warrumbungle National Park Environmental Education Centre

Extreme weather conditions impact multiple states and territories

In the Northern Territory (NT), although it is not yet clear if schools will close, NT Health has issued severe and extreme heat health alerts with high temperatures in several locations across the region this week.

Victorians are also at risk, with authorities there saying vast numbers of asthmatics are unprepared for a thunderstorm asthma event, amid the state’s earliest start to the grass pollen season in thirty years.

Dr Edwin Lampugnani from Melbourne Pollen, said that, although conditions that have not been seen previously were making exact predictions difficult, the predicted warm summer season ahead will increase the risk and is likely to see the season extend beyond its usual December end date.

In November 2016, ten Victorians died after an epidemic thunderstorm asthma event saw thousands suffer breathing difficulties and overwhelm the state’s health system.

- Advertisement -

With extreme weather events set to continue across Australia in the months to come, parents and schools are advised to ensure action plans are in place to help protect the lives of young Australians.

Share This Article
Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]brandx.live