Hazardous bushfire smoke envelops Canberra, baseball called off

Ian Bushnell 1 January 2020 82

A murky view of Woden this morning. Photos: Region Media.

The ACT woke to a New Year and the worst air quality in the world, with the national capital shrouded in a pall of thick smoke blown in overnight from the bushfires in NSW.

There was hardly any visibility across the national capital and the air quality was rated Hazardous Extreme, the highest there is, at Canberra’s three measuring stations in Monash, Florey and Civic.

According to the World Air Quality Index rankings, at 9.30 am Canberra rated the worst at 434, followed by Dehli (411) and Kolkata (331).

Air quality rankings

Air quality rankings this morning. Image: World Air Quality Index.

Over 200 is considered hazardous on the Air Quality Index used by ACT Health. At noon, the index was at 4394 in Monash, 3282 in Florey and 3247 in Civic.

The smoky conditions are the worst the ACT has seen, and with major bushfires still burning in NSW, the situation is unlikely to improve soon.

The Emergency Services Agency also advises that a Total Fire Ban for the whole of the ACT will remain in effect for the rest of the day.

Parks and Conservation will maintain the closure of areas including west of the Murrumbidgee River, Kowen Forest, the Mulligans Flat Sanctuary and Googong Foreshores until midnight on Saturday.

While easterly winds brought cooler conditions this morning the temperature is expected to reach 35 degrees and the forecast Fire Danger Rating (FDR) for today is Very High.

There is no relief from the heat until Monday when 23 C is forecast, but not before temperatures peak at 42 C on Saturday.

Aspen Island and the Carillon

Aspen Island and the Carillon.

Although there are no fires burning in the ACT, the smoke from across the border will continue to impact the Territory, thinning during the day but returning to thicker conditions in the evening with the easterly.

Tuggeranong Parkway

No view of Telstra Tower from the Tuggeranong Parkway.

ACT Health upgraded its warning and advises that everyone should avoid all physical activity outdoors.

This has been heeded by the Canberra Cavalry which has called off its Canberra and Adelaide’s round seven Australian Baseball League series against Adelaide.

The four-game series was slated to start on Thursday.

“The entire Canberra and Southern NSW region has been shocked by the bushfires. This is a difficult decision to make but at the end of the day, the safety of our players, staff, and fans is the most important thing,” says Cavalry Director Dan Amodio.

Baseball Australia chief executive Cam Vale also said the welfare of players, and officials had to be put first.

“We’re facing an unprecedented situation with the serious bushfires sweeping the country and with the information we have available do not see the conditions being suitable for baseball this weekend,” Mr Vale said.

The Cavalry will provide more detail on tickets and other implications on Wednesday morning, and the ABL will outline the impact of the cancelled series on the playoffs and roster points as well.

ACT Health says sensitive groups such as people over 65, children 14 years and younger, pregnant women and those with existing heart or lung conditions should stay with a friend or relative living outside the affected area.

If this is not possible, ACT Health says residents should remain indoors and keep activity levels as low as possible.

Anyone with a heart or lung condition should take their medication as prescribed by their doctor. People with asthma should follow their asthma action plan. Anyone with concerns about their health should seek medical advice from their doctor. Anyone experiencing wheezing, chest tightness or difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

Dairy Farmers Hill

Canberra is lost to the smog from Dairy Farmers Hill.

Police urged motorists to drive to the conditions and turn their headlights on.

While easterlies are bring smoke to the inland, smoke has also gone across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand where towns such as Dunedin and Oamaru have been affected.

The War Memorial this morning.

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82 Responses to Hazardous bushfire smoke envelops Canberra, baseball called off
Hillbilly Hillbilly 10:25 pm 02 Jan 20

How on earth is Summernats not affected this year? The worst air in the world leading to closure of NYE festivities, sports events, public places and even mail delivery – and
yet Summennats continues with burnouts happily adding to the dire air quality. How do they do it?

Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:58 pm 02 Jan 20

And where is our Chief Minister? He should be here in our time of crisis providing leadership.

Acton Acton 12:46 pm 02 Jan 20

Anyone seen or heard from our Chief Minister? Any words of advice or support? Where is he when Canberra is suffering from such terrible air quality conditions? On holiday somewhere?
Canberra shops have run out of P2 respiratory masks. The ACT Govt should be locating a supply of these masks and distributing them to residents.

Judith Barlow Judith Barlow 8:25 am 02 Jan 20

Drive with your headlights on, parking lights don't get thru the smoke

Deanna Laenen Deanna Laenen 11:45 pm 01 Jan 20

Yes it wasn’t the best start to the new year, coming home to this.

Heather McMillan Heather McMillan 11:13 pm 01 Jan 20

It’s terrible Carol, smokes not bad here but you guys and so many others are really hit by it. Take carexx

Catherine Anne Catherine Anne 10:21 pm 01 Jan 20

Fireproof Eden Project anyone?

    Janine May Janine May 7:33 am 02 Jan 20

    Catherine Anne that place is awesome...I’d live in one of those bubbles for sure!

Gilavon Gilavon 9:57 pm 01 Jan 20

What’s the problem? Why raise the horrible spectre (to some) of Canberra’s pollution level on par or higher than New Delhi? It will pass once the fires finish and the smoke clears. All the Chicken Little’s can find another cause to angst about.

Holz Finch Holz Finch 9:40 pm 01 Jan 20

Jayne Hunt Rona Anton it's so crazy here!

    Jayne Hunt Jayne Hunt 10:02 pm 01 Jan 20

    It must be pretty horrid in Canberra with all the smoke and the heat Hols and how awful is it to see the devastation at Bateman's and along the coast 😢

    Holz Finch Holz Finch 10:04 pm 01 Jan 20

    Jayne Hunt it's crazy. Scary for the kids, Leo took the rubbish out with Keith and I had to give him the asthma puffer which he's not had before!

    Jayne Hunt Jayne Hunt 10:09 pm 01 Jan 20

    Oh that's not good I can well understand that it's scary for the boys especially if they're struggling to breathe properly- thank goodness you've got the puffer!

Jack Hearps Jack Hearps 7:40 pm 01 Jan 20

We should recall govt ... so they can breath in their handy work!

    Lois Johnson Lois Johnson 8:44 pm 01 Jan 20

    Jack Hearps ridiculous blaming people for a most unnatural situation. A most unhappy wake where people blame whoever they can.

    Jack Hearps Jack Hearps 11:14 pm 01 Jan 20

    Lois Johnson you mean like the LNP ... greenies and Labor or ... scientist teachers and school children? Frankly avoiding responsibility is a sociopathic trait.

    Rod Northway Rod Northway 4:12 am 02 Jan 20

    Lois Johnson Some people reckon that's why there are governments - so they have someone to blame who won't fight back :-)

    Jack Hearps Jack Hearps 4:37 am 02 Jan 20

    Rod Northway i wish we did have a real govt ... then long term actions at a global level may have been advanced ...but hey lets just start the game of buck passing to sooth the ego's of big Corporations.

    Lois Johnson Lois Johnson 2:34 pm 02 Jan 20

    Jack Hearps what would you do if you were Prime Minister today with this catastrophe? Today not yesterday.

Sue Blackwell Sue Blackwell 7:20 pm 01 Jan 20

Kathy Gebhardt Mallon this is what we left this morning to travel north.

Laura Bew Laura Bew 6:29 pm 01 Jan 20

Breanna Maarbani don’t come back tomorrow hun. Delay if you can

    Breanna Maarbani Breanna Maarbani 6:56 pm 01 Jan 20

    Laura, we've decided we are going to stay away a bit longer. Hope it lifts soon!

    Laura Bew Laura Bew 6:56 pm 01 Jan 20

    Breanna Maarbani good idea. I’ll keep you posted x

    Barry Pope Barry Pope 11:01 am 02 Jan 20

    Thanks Laura Bew

OLydia OLydia 6:11 pm 01 Jan 20

Not sure where the air quality figures are taken for “Canberra” as it isn’t indicative of the air quality in the burbs ie Florey at 3158 and Monash 4250.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:20 pm 01 Jan 20

    It’s important that those discrepencies are settled because a few EPAs would have relied on acceptable “air quality” readings to seek approval.

    Maya123 Maya123 6:50 pm 01 Jan 20

    I don’t understand those figures. It’s as if there are two scales. The ACT health has the figure for Civic at 5pm as 3721, while on a couple of other sites it’s 885. Are there two scales, or is this measured differently, such as the other sites measures over 24 hours and averages, while the ACT site give the reading, as the example I gave, of 5pm. I find the two figures confusing, but whatever it is, it’s bad.

Brendon Mulloy Brendon Mulloy 6:10 pm 01 Jan 20

Dalgety, Cooma and Jindabyne would like Canberra to hold their beer...

This was Dalgety an hour ago. It’s worse now.

Amanda Smith Amanda Smith 5:31 pm 01 Jan 20

Outlying areas are alot worse than Canberra !

    Annie Savery Annie Savery 10:36 am 02 Jan 20

    but it’s not about you....it’s all about me 😂

    Annie Savery Annie Savery 10:42 am 02 Jan 20

    Amanda Smith hey whats your roster like for feb. send me your free dates if you know them yet and I’ll galvanise the group.

    Amanda Smith Amanda Smith 10:46 am 02 Jan 20

    Annie Savery roster hopefully out next wednesday. Will let you know Asap

Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 5:03 pm 01 Jan 20

How come Summernats is being endorsed by ACT Health to go ahead (according to Andy Lopez on 666) in these hazardous conditions, after Health advised us not to go outside?

    M M M M 10:35 pm 01 Jan 20

    The burnout competition starts tomorrow. Surely at least that should be cancelled or postponed until the air quality improves to normal levels.

Carol McHarry Carol McHarry 4:39 pm 01 Jan 20

I know air quality is awful here but think of what the areas of the fires their quality must be just as bad or even worse .

Carol Sharp Carol Sharp 4:35 pm 01 Jan 20

Choking. Eyes and throat sore and headaches. Not new years eve induced I have to say😭😭

Maria Fearnley Maria Fearnley 4:29 pm 01 Jan 20

The smoke is bad here too

Karen Marks Karen Marks 4:22 pm 01 Jan 20

Jesus H Christ

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