Record-breaking September temperatures for NSW have led to a total fire ban in multiple regions, a catastrophic fire warning for the Far South Coast, and forced the closure of three national parks in the Sydney area. 


Bushfires have come early to NSW as the temperature rose to 34.6ºC this week.

As it stands, total fire bans are in place for:

  • the Greater Sydney Region
  • Greater Hunter
  • Upper Central West Plains

Meanwhile, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has closed three national parks in the Sydney area for Wednesday 20th of September, including:

  • Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park – east of Cowan Waters
  • Garigal National Park
  • Sydney Harbour National Park – north of Sydney Harbour

On Tuesday 19th September, a Catastrophic bushfire warning was put in place for the first time in three years on NSW’s Far South Coast. It has now been dropped to High. Extreme fire danger is in place for the Greater Sydney and Upper Hunter areas, with several other areas forecast to experience High fire danger.

3,000 students across 21 schools have been kept at home as schools were temporarily closed on both Tuesday 19th and Wednesday 20th of September as part of the NSW Education Department’s 2022 school bushfire risk rating system. Most of the schools are in the same area impacted by the 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says this is due to an El Nino weather phenomenon. On Tuesday 19th of September, there were up to 75 grass and bushfires underway in NSW. Thankfully, firefighters now have most of them under control.

NSW Bushfires

What is El Nino & La Nina?

According to the NASA Earth Observatory El Nino weather pattern forms when warm water builds up along the equator in the eastern Pacific, bringing storms and heavy rains. La Nina is the buildup of cooler waters which prevents the formation of rain clouds resulting in less rain and droughts. El Nino is often followed by La Nina as the waters oscillate with the changing seasons.

The relationship between El Nino and climate change is complicated. The Bureau of Meteorology says that both weather phenomena have become more frequent as a result of climate change and declared yesterday that El Nino has begun again.

‘The long range forecast for Australia indicates warmer and drier than average conditions are likely across most of southern and eastern Australia from October to December,’ the BOM stated.

How to Stay Safe During Bushfire Season

Read more: How to Explore Safely in Bushfire Season

  • Ensure you have a Bushfire Survival Plan in place
  • Store important documents in an easy-to-grab box 
  • Report unattended fires to ‘000’
  • Listen to warnings 
  • Check on your neighbours
  • Contact NSW Emergency Fire Department if you’re concerned
  • Keep your property clear of excess debris
  • Evacuate if you’re not sure – don’t take any chances
  • Don’t light any fires, even your BBQ


Feature photo by @aedanodonnell