Catastrophic fire conditions gripping New South Wales could soon come to a head, as a cold front sweeps across the state.
A severe weather warning has been issued for the Sydney, Illawarra and Hunter districts, where damaging winds averaging 60 to 70 kilometres per hour are forecast.
This combination of conditions has proven disastrous in the past. In fact, it was a cold front that ramped up the deadly fires on Friday.
So what does this mean for those on the ground? And what do you need to know?
When will the cold front hit?
A cold front is moving through southern and western New South Wales, continuing through to the north-east overnight or early Wednesday.
Those southerly winds are expected to push up the coast, reaching Wollongong between 5:00pm and 6:00pm, Sydney at around 7:00pm and Newcastle between 8:00pm and 9:00pm this evening.
“Then it will slow down as we lose the heat of the day, and reach Port Macquarie around midnight,” said meteorologist Andrea Pace.
“Then [the southerly change will] continue to move up the coast, not really clearing the state until 8:00am on Wednesday morning.”
How much will temperatures drop?
Areas like Merimbula have already experienced a temperature drop of as much as 10 degrees Celsius as the southerly change moves up the coast.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, temperatures in Wollongong could drop by up to 19 degrees (34C to 15C) between 5:00pm and 8:00pm, while similar conditions are expected in Sydney (36C to 19C).
“The southerly wind is expected to be particularly strong as it moves through Wollongong, Sydney and the Central Coast this afternoon and evening, with temperatures dropping by more than 10 degrees in 30 minutes,” Ms Pace said.
What could it do to the fires?
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, winds will be strong and gusty ahead of the change.
And that means bad news for fire conditions.
When northerly winds are replaced by a cold front bringing strong south-westerlies, anyone on the eastern side of the fire is in danger. (ABC Weather: Kate Doyle)
“Fires are going to spread quickly and embers will be carried well ahead of any ongoing fires,” Ms Pace said.
“Then as the southerly winds move through, the direction of the fire front will change, so this really is a dangerous situation.”
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