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From storms to grassfires: New threat for Victoria as hot winds return

“We will struggle to extinguish a running grassfire at the height of those winds … don’t be in front of it, it will kill you,” Mr Warrington said.

Already this bushfire crisis, 405 homes have been significantly damaged or destroyed in Victoria along with more than 600 other significant structures.

The Mallee region, which takes in the state’s far north-west, is at the greatest risk of fire on Wednesday, although new grassfires could threaten much of Victoria’s west.

Mr Warrington said emergency crews were not so concerned about the existing fires in the state’s north-east and East Gippsland where 20 to 60 millimetres of rain has fallen since Sunday.

Kevin Parkyn, a senior forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, said that was “pretty welcome” for some fire zones after “explosive fire behaviour”.

But in other areas, the rain was so intense it brought trees and rocks onto roads. There were landslips on the Great Alpine Road and between Cann River and Genoa on the Princes Highway, complicating the recovery for bushfire-affected towns.

“We’ve seen lots of debris from some of the fire-affected areas wash into the streams and rivers, turning them to dark chocolate,” Mr Parkyn said.

“We’ve had falls of 140 millimetres at places like Mount Moornapa in central Gippsland and normally that would result in pretty significant riverine flooding. But the ground’s just absorbed that, opened up, absorbed it and we’ve only seen minor stream rises in that part of the world.”

Melbourne copped 44 millimetres on Monday, the most rain it has had in one day since 2011.

Giant hailstones the size of limes fell in Glen Iris, when the SES received 2200 calls for help – mostly in Melbourne. Around 250 of the calls were for flash flooding.

But hot and dry conditions will return to the state on Wednesday morning as northerly winds intensify.

By the afternoon however, thunderstorms are forecast, possibly bringing dry lightning.

Rain delayed the first afternoon of Australian Open action.

Rain delayed the first afternoon of Australian Open action.Credit:Getty Images

“So it’s been a merry-go-round of weather over the last few days,” Mr Parkyn said.

He warned that dry lightning could hit before a cool change arrives. Winds will ease an hour or two after the change come through.

The city is expected to top 32 degrees, with the cool change expected around lunchtime.

There were 14 bushfires still burning in Victoria by Tuesday afternoon, with all now at advice level, meaning they don’t pose risks to lives and homes.

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