Scientist Offers A Simple Explanation For Why The Huge NSW Fires Could Get Even More Dangerous

Photo: Getty/ Lisa Maree Williams

High winds are expected on Wednesday, and while the weather is cooler today fire crews are still fighting to get blazes under control before they arrive.

Overnight crews joined two of the fires burning in the Blue Mountains to prevent them meeting others in the region, commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said this morning.

Through back-burning firefighters linked the blazes along the Darling causeway, trying to get the situation under control ahead of the deteriorating weather conditions.

Since the weekend there have been fears that several fires in the Blue Mountains would join into one huge, uncontrollable front.

Dr Owen Price, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires at the University of Wollongong, has explained to The ABC exactly why that would be so devastating:

“You can get these conditions, what you call a pyrocumulus, where a fire is producing so much energy it punches up through the troposphere a huge plume of smoke, essentially creating a thunderstorm with lots and lots of energy in it.

“Then it starts to suck in air from all around, so there’s more oxygen and it feeds back on itself so the fire behaviour goes really extreme.

“Unfortunately under those conditions when it’s creating its own weather you can get things like tornados occurring.

“If two big fires coalesce together they’re sort of pooling their energy together, so you can get feedback that makes them even more intense.”

If the fires did join into one large enough to generate its own weather conditions, Price told The ABC it could become impossible to fight.

The United States space agency NASA has released satellite images of the smoke clouds from the blazes, which give you an understanding on their size. Here’s the latest one:

Photo:

There’s more here.

Now read: Fire Crews Desperately Trying To Back-Burn Ahead Of Tomorrow’s Strong Winds

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook and Twitter

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.