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News > Chile

Smoke from Australia Wildfires Traveling 6,800 Miles to Chile

  • Ash and fire debris are washed up on Boydtown Beach near the Nullica River in Eden, Australia January 7, 2020.

    Ash and fire debris are washed up on Boydtown Beach near the Nullica River in Eden, Australia January 7, 2020. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 January 2020

The fires, considered among the worst of the century in Australia, have caused 23 deaths and destroyed more than 1,500 homes since September.

The smoke from the extensive wildfires in Australia, considered to be the worst of the past century having destroyed some six million hectares (15 million acres), arrived in Chile on Monday after traveling more than 11,000 kilometers (6,820 miles) over the Pacific Ocean, the UN World Meteorological Organization said Tuesday.

Australia: Wildfires Paint the Sky Red, Create Lightning Storms

A meteorological trough – a barometric depression that penetrates between two zones of high atmospheric pressure – is suspected to have been the conduit through which the smoke crossed the Pacific to the South American continent.

Meteorologist Edita Amador told EFE that the smoke is especially visible in central Chile, where mist is covering the sky that under normal circumstances would be cloudless, and that it is “possible” that it will remain in the area until Tuesday.

“In the coming days probably it will head toward Argentina,” said Amador, who works for Chile’s Weather Directorate.

The only consequence so far, Amador said, is a reduction in the ultraviolet radiation reaching the ground because of the “cap” that these kind of clouds form over the land.

Light rain in areas affected by bushfires in southeast Australia on Monday gave firefighters and affected communities some respite before temperatures are expected to return to around 40 degrees Celsius (104 F) at the end of this week.

The fires and have burned almost six million hectares (15 million acres) of land, equivalent to twice the area of Belgium.

The National Bushfire Recovery Fund, which will be led by former Australian federal police commissioner Andrew Colvin, will be dedicated to helping rebuild houses and infrastructure damaged by the fires that have raged in the country since September and which resulted in a “catastrophic” weekend just past.

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