‘It’s not rain’: Eerie BoM map explained
A WEATHER map that appears to show rain clouds gathering over the some of the nation's worst bushfires overnight is no cause for celebration.
The Bureau of Meteorology's radar image, which was taken last night and shared on social media, shows swathes of deep blue pixels forming over Sydney's north and south-west, where fires are continuing to cause widespread destruction.
However, BoM forecaster Abrar Shabren told news.com.au there is no rain on the way for the areas covered by the "clouds" shown in the map.
"Unfortunately, what we're seeing in this image is not rain - it's smoke," he said.
"What you can see is actually elevated smoke haze from the bushfires in the north and south west of Sydney."
He said the radar picks up elevated smoke particles when they hit the system's elevation levels and there was very little cloud around at the time the map image was taken.
He added that there is very little prospect of rain in these areas in the coming days, as none is forecast.
SMOKE NOT GOING ANYWHERE
Sydney residents woke up to another day of thick smoke haze this morning and authorities warned the poor air quality conditions would linger.
The air quality index is forecast as hazardous in almost every part of Sydney and its surrounds today, with the NSW Environment Department's website crashing because so many people are searching for information.
Our website is temp unavailable due to technical issues with the server. SMS service still working. Updates tweeted at @NSWenviromedia. Sydney AQ is forecast for Friday 6 December is POOR due to smoke from #NSWFires and ozone. https://t.co/VpgDwRQUxi pic.twitter.com/NACI50urwe— DPIE Environment, Energy and Science (@nswenviromedia) December 5, 2019
Sydney's air quality across the city is currently one of the worst in the world - with the department confirming this season's bushfire emergency has caused "some of the highest air pollution ever seen in NSW".
It says the hazy conditions are "the longest and the most widespread in our records".
Currently, the smoke is being blown in from large fires near Warragamba Dam and the Wollombi National Park.
Mr Shabren said conditions might improve slightly this afternoon because a forecast easterly wind is tipped to blow some of the smoke out to sea.
However, he said the wind is only expected to be light and will die down overnight - bringing the prospect of a smoky weekend in the city.
"We're going to see the smoke blow in and out, but it's going to linger as long as the fires are still burning," he said.
FACE MASKS 'CLOSE TO USELESS'
However, a bushfire smoke expert has warned face masks are "close to useless".
The head of the environmental health group at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, Associate Professor Fay Johnston, told the Sydney Morning Herald, cloth or paper masks do not filter fine particles such as the ones caused by bushfire smoke.
"That really won't protect you from the health effects of smoke because it's the finer particles that we worry about with smoke, so they're not a good solution all in all," she said.
Health authorities say the only way to properly protect yourself is to remain indoors and avoid heavy exercise - especially children, the elderly and those with heart and lung problems.
Smoke from bushfires continues to affect large parts of NSW, reducing air quality. If you have a chronic respiratory or heart condition follow these tips from Dr Richard Broome. #NSWFIRES pic.twitter.com/BbhPygGDcJ— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) December 2, 2019
KEEP PETS INSIDE
It's not only humans suffering in the smoke haze.
Dogs and cats have been turning up at veterinary clinics and hospitals across Sydney with severe asthmatic attacks, breathing difficulties and nausea.
Bondi Vet Hospital owner Dr Kate Adams told AAP the reaction of pets to the smoke haze is minor in most cases.
But for older pets or "squishy-nosed breeds" of dogs and cats, as well as those with pre-existing medical conditions, the smog can be life-threatening. Dr Adams said owners should look for signs their pets are struggling, such as breathing difficulties, coughing, vomiting, lethargy, and runny noses and eyes.
ALMOST 700 HOMES DESTROYED
This morning, the Rural Fire Service has confirmed that more than 680 homes have been destroyed in NSW this bushfire season.
It says almost 250 houses have been damaged, while more than 2,000 outbuildings have been destroyed or damaged.
Almost the entire coastal area of NSW and much of the state's northeast have a severe fire danger rating for Friday.
Total fire bans will be in place for the far South Coast and the Monaro alpine, southern ranges, Illawarra-Shoalhaven, central ranges, Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, northern slopes and northwestern regions.
For the latest coverage, click here.
- with AAP