In the image accompanying this text, it’s Tuesday afternoon and smoke from fires east of Waratah and from west of Chudleigh is about to hit the north east of Tasmania.  The smoke that can be seen in Bass Strait is not going to make it onto our shores - that’s the extent of the mainland’s foray south.

Do yourselves a favour and zoom in on our local line of smoke crossing the island in an easterly difection.  Here, in this image, you can see how it was broadening, and slowing.  It’s almost as far as the east coast.  [In one of the links supplied on one of the other previous related threads, we could see that smoke as it began - a slim line of smoke only extending a relatively short distance.]  Now you can see that it has continued across the state, and that there are some very thick sections of smoke within it.

The next thing that happened was that a wind change brought that line of smoke in a north-east direction - to Launceston.  At this stage I photographed it [see ‘The Truth about the Smoke’ - link below] approaching Launceston, showing clearly that the smoke was to the west and south west of the city.  My photos showed clearly that as the smoke crossed the city, the sky further to the north was still clear of smoke.  As the afternoon grew into evening the amount of smoke coming from the west increased.  It got dark. 

In the morning, Wed 17th - St Patrick’s Day, Launceston was covered in fog - the first for the year.  The fog extended out to Rocherlea.  Beyond that point, beyond the extent of the fog, as I drove to Lilydale, I could see the bush and the gullies filled with the smoke that I had seen while it was still light on the previous day. [Tue 16 Mar]  The St Pat’s Wednesday early morning air was calm.  At Lilydale itself, the smoke was pervasive and had actually thickened by 10:30am to the point that you could smell it, taste it, feel it in your nose and on your eyes and, yes, though we could all still see, our world outside our town had shrunk to a kilometre or so.  By lunchtime, as the day warmed up and the air began to move, the smoke began to thin.  Yet after work, it was still throughout the district in the gullies and valleys, in the trees and still shortening our horizons.

This satellite pic is the best that I can find to illustrate what actually happened.  It is the last taken on the Tue afternoon that I have seen that shows what is about to unfold.  (apart from those shots that were taken on the ground by TT correspondents, including myself)  After this, the next available satellite image shows Tas covered in cloud and glimpses are caught between masses of cloud, of smoke moving north eastwards.  It is disappointing that this shocking event should have been so accompanied by misinformation from mostly anonymous correspondents, who it always seems, have an axe of confusion to grind, have fires of illusion to light and have truth to hide and deny. 

I have attached here a document* containing a sequence of images from Sentinel which shows the hotspots in Tasmania over those two-three days - hotspots which some correspondents like “crf” told us didn’t exist in the forty eight hours leading up to ‘Smoke-Wednesday.’  Well, the truth is, it was a local job, the ‘smoking guns’ can be found between Waratah and Mole Creek.

PS:  I rather fancy in the satellite photo that you can see a long passenger jet-stream among the Bass Strait smoke.  It seems to have a couple of splits in it and also a ‘twist in its southern tail’.  (You’d need to zoom to see it)  My further fancy is that perhaps it is the same jet-stream that you can see in one of the photos that I took and included in the “Truth about the Smoke” (see link below)  Clive disagrees with me, which is good, that’ll give us the chance to have a little wager - readers can be ‘the jury’. 

Smoke over Chudleigh / John Hawkins,      23/3/2010 HERE
The Truth about the Smoke /Garry Stannus 22/3/2010 HERE
Forestry Burns Tasmania ... and Labor       18/3/2010   HERE