Last year early August 2019, the Australian east coast experienced an unprecedented number of major bushfires across multiple states. The hardest hit areas included Central Queensland, South Eastern Queensland, the New South Wales (NSW) North Coast, the Hawkesbury north west of Sydney (NSW), the Wollondilly south west of Sydney (NSW and the NSW South Coast. The fires have burnt almost 3,000,000 hectares, destroyed over 700 houses and claimed many lives
Last year The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment announced that the poor air quality being experienced across the state is the longest and most widespread in history.
Bushfires in Australia can occur all year-round, though the severity and the “bushfire season” varies by region. These seasons are commonly grouped into years such as “2006-07 Australian bushfire season” and typically run from June one year until May the next year.
In southeast Australia, bushfires tend to be most common and most severe during summer and autumn (December–March), in drought years, and particularly severe in El Niño years. Southeast Australia is fire-prone, and warm and dry conditions intensify the probability of fire. In northern Australia, bushfires usually occur during the dry season (April to September), and fire severity tends to be more associated with seasonal weather patterns. In the southwest, similarly, bushfires occur in the summer dry season and severity is usually related to seasonal growth. Fire frequency in the north is difficult to assess, as the vast majority of fires are caused by human activity, however lightning strikes are as common a cause as human-ignited fires and arson.
Australia’s climate has been trending toward more bushfire weather over the last 30 years. The Climate Commission found that “The intensity and seasonality of large bushfires in south-east Australia appears to be changing, with climate change a possible contributing factor.”
The Six Best iPhone Apps for Tracking Fires and Smoke Pollution in Australia
As fires continues to rage and the thick blanket of smoke remains, experts have predicted that this could last throughout the summer. Local authorities provide education and information for residents in bushfire-prone regions regarding the location of current fires,preservation of life and property and when to escape by car. Also there are some of the best apps so you can keep a digital eye on the fires, smoke and the air quality near you. Here are the Six Best iPhone Apps for Tracking Fires and Smoke Pollution in Australia
1. Air Visual
With the rating of 4.8 at app store, Air Visual App offers detailed data around the air quality in your area. Not only can it monitor your immediate vicinity, you can add ‘places’ you want to track, such as work or home. You can set up push notifications to alert you to the air quality every day, which will also offer recommendations. It may tell you to keep your windows closed or not do any outdoor exercise.
It also includes a 7-day forecast for weather, temperature wind and air pollution, which is exceptionally handy. It also provides data around the level and type of pollutants in the air, if that’s something you need to track for respiratory purposes.
2. Air Matters
Rated 4.6 at app store, Air Matters is another good app for tracking air pollution. You can search for cities and towns, or use your location to get information on air quality. It will provide the AQI, pollutants in the air and temperature, as well as offer recommendations for health. It will tell you if you should consider using a mask, an air purifier or whether outdoor exercise is suitable. One interesting point of difference is that this app can connect to air purifiers and air quality monitors in your house. This means you can check the air in your home or office anytime, anywhere. It provides recommendations based off its readings and can send updates whenever the air quality changes. “Air Matters Premium” is an optional yearly subscription that remove ads and support future development. Current price for this premium service is $1.43 AUD per year, otherwise this app is free.
3. Fires Near Me NSW
Fires Near Me NSW is the official application of the NSW Rural Fire Service, providing information about bush and grass fires across NSW. The app shows incidents from all agencies including the NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire & Rescue NSW, National Parks & Wildlife Service, and Forestry Corporation. Stay up to date on bush fires in NSW with the official NSW Rural Fire Service Fires Near Me application, providing warnings and incident information. This app provides information on incidents across NSW attended by the NSW RFS and other agencies.
It’s a very clean and easy app to navigate, giving you the option to view via a map or a list. The latter will name impacted areas in order of which are closest to you. Tapping on a fire will give you more information about a fire – how far it is from you, size (in hectares), whether it is under control and the latest updates.
One new app feature is ‘Watch Zones’. This allows you to monitor a specific area for fire activity. You need push notifications turned on to use this so you can be sent alerts if one of your watch zones has been affected by fire.
4. Fires Near Me Australia
This app is best for bush fire warnings and incident information using data from participating fire agencies in Australia. This app has been developed by the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS). The NSW RFS recommends users of the app do not rely solely on the information provided in the app. In an emergency always rely on other communication channels such as websites, information lines and local radio. Check your state or territory’s fire agency website for more details.
5. Live Traffic NSW
Live traffic will keep you abreast of any congestion or traffic hazards in case you need to alter your route. It also includes information on where bush fires, smoke and back burning are occurring so you can avoid those areas if possible. Live Traffic NSW provides up-to-the minute news of incidents and conditions that affect your journey in Sydney and Regional NSW. This app provides you with live updates about traffic incidents and access to live traffic cameras from the Transport Management Centre (TMC).
6. Bom Weather
BOM Weather is the Bureau of Meteorology’s weather app, giving you the most accurate weather information at your fingertips. The BOM Weather app includes current conditions, temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity and rainfall since 9am. Also your forecast weather for the week ahead including temperature, rainfall (chance and amount) and wind, Official weather warnings listed by state or territory with Live updates
As of latest with New South Wales and Queensland enduring months of bushfires, and smoke now blanketing towns and cities, the Bureau of Meteorology’s seasonal outlook, covering even this month, says the weather is likely to be drier than average, and warmer than average. Only one part of Australia – north-west Western Australia – has increased odds of rain.