Victoria is forecast to get some reprieve on Friday from flash-flooding, blanketing smoke and lightning igniting new fires across the state.
While some “hit and miss” thunderstorms are likely in the northeast, the state is expected to have a calm Friday, with showers potentially leaving 2-5mm of rain in the eastern regions.
But the reprieve from weather conditions this week that left “the worst air in the world” in Melbourne as 77mm of rain fell in the western suburbs is not expected to last long.
Easterly winds will likely bring smoke haze from fire-ravaged areas to central Victoria on Saturday, with air quality predicted to range from “very poor” to “hazardous”.
A low-pressure system could mean heavier falls across the state on Sunday and Monday, but it is not yet clear whether that rain will reach bushfire regions.
“Certainly, at this stage, there is the potential that we could see more rainfall across those fire-affected areas,” Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Diana Eadie told reporters.
“But it is highly dependent on exactly where that low (pressure system) is, and we will be monitoring that very carefully over the coming days.”
Rain hitting the alpine and East Gippsland regions on Thursday did little to help battle the fires.
One emergency warning was placed on Thursday evening in Abbeyard.
Emergency services said the bushfire could impact the towns of Nug Nug, Buffalo River and Merrang South overnight and warned residents to leave.
Another six “Watch and Acts” alerts remained in place, as more than 1500 firefighters were kept fighting 20 active fires that have burnt more than 1.5 million hectares.
Tourists steering clear of Victoria’s high country amid fears of bushfires and smoke were on Thursday cautiously invited to return.
Tourism North East issued the appeal, stressing that the vast majority of the region has not been directly impacted by flames and that shops and restaurants remain open.
“High country communities are resilient and together we look forward to welcoming guests back to the region,” Tourism North East acting chief executive Sarah Pilgrim said.