Download Full Text (1.1 MB)
Thunderstorms are spectacular but hazardous weather phenomena and the associated lightning and wind gusts can be very hazardous to people, buildings, and industry and utility assets. The thunderstorm hazards in Australia are in most respects similar to those in other countries, but some are worthy of special comment. In some instances, the effects of lightning initiated bushfires are so extreme that they are classified as natural disasters. The wildfires started by lightning are known locally in Australia as bushfire and grass fires, and these can cause extensive damage and loss of life. The ignition is caused by the lightning current in ground flashes, and firing is associated with low moisture contents of (potential) fine fuels such as duff in trees and dense grass, and the occurrence of multiple stroke currents and continuing current. During dry periods, lightning initiated grass fires are a major problem in inland areas, as are lightning initiated bushfires in remote forest areas. Once ignited, grass fires spread quickly, whereas in bushfires, ignition often starts as a small localised fire in or near the crown of the tree, and it may take a few hours for the fire to spread to other trees and to become an uncontrollable wildfire. Given the potential hazards associated with lightning, knowledge about spatial and temporal distributions of thunderstorm and lightning activity is of great importance for developing comprehensive protective measures.
Modern Climatology, whole system, historical statistics, variability, atmosphere, prediction
Climate | Earth Sciences