Hundreds of bushfires propelled by strong winds are burning along the eastern coasts of the states of Queensland and New South Wales. Individuals living close to Port Stephens (New South Wales; 180 km [110 mi] north of Sydney) were told over the weekend August 18-19 to activate their "bushfire survival plans." Hundreds of firefighters are currently working to contain blazes as of August 20, notably near Port Stephens, Shoalhaven, and Bega.
Bushfires are rare during the Australian winter. Particularly dry conditions - e.g. a severe drought in New South Wales - help explain this unusual phenomenon. Weather officials have forecast further warm and dry weather across large parts of Australia over the next three months.
Individuals present in Queensland and New South Wales are advised to keep abreast of weather forecasts, adhere to any instructions issued by local authorities, and be prepared to evacuate in the event of an emergency.