Sydney NYE2019 Weather: Poor Air Quality (141 Index)


We don’t normally cover the weather forecast in the week prior to NYE as the weather is usually just perfect on the day. However, the lead-up to this NYE has been anything but normal – tragic bushfires, hazardous air quality & days of poor visibility. Compare all forecasts & current/imminent conditions with historical NYE weather data at the bottom of this page.

Weather Warnings

Marine Wind Warning Summary


Marine Wind Warning Summary for New South Wales

Issued at 4:15 pm EDT on Tuesday 31 December 2019
for the period until midnight EDT Wednesday 1 January 2020.

Wind Warnings for Tuesday 31 December

Strong Wind Warning for Sydney Closed Waters

Check the latest Sydney Closed Waters Forecast: Sydney Harbour Waters Forecast for information on wind, wave and weather conditions for these coastal zones.

Fire Weather Warning


Fire Weather Warning
for the Greater Sydney Region fire area

Issued at 3:27 pm EDT on Tuesday 31 December 2019.

Weather Situation
Hot, dry and windy conditions is bringing elevated fire danger to parts of New South Wales.

For the rest of Tuesday 31 December:

Severe Fire Danger is forecast for the Greater Sydney Region fire area.

The NSW Rural Fire Service advises you to:

  • Action your Bushfire Survival Plan now.
  • Monitor the fire and weather situation through your local radio station, and
  • Call 000 (Triple Zero) in an emergency.
  • If you plan to leave finalise your options and leave early on the day
  • Only stay if your home is well prepared and you can actively defend it
  • Prepare for the emotional, mental and physical impact of defending your property – if in doubt, leave.

For information on preparing for bushfires go to

No further warnings will be issued for this event, but the situation will continue to be monitored and further warnings issued if necessary.

Current Forecast

As of 4:20pm 31 December

  • Minimum Temperature: 22 degrees Celsius
  • Maximum Temperature: 34 degrees Celsius
  • General: Smoke haze. Gusty cool change.
  • Possible Rainfall: N/A
  • Chance Of Any Rain: 20%
  • Fire Danger: Severe (67%)
  • Sun Protection: Recommended from 9:20 am to 4:30 pm
  • Ultra Violet Index: 9 [Very High]

Sydney Area Forecast:

Smoke haze, mainly in the west. Slight (20%) chance of a shower or thunderstorm in the evening. Winds northwesterly 15 to 25 km/h, tending northeasterly 25 to 40 km/h along the coast. A cool and gusty southerly change moving through most suburbs between about 5pm and 7pm, reaching 30 to 50 km/h near the coast.

Sydney Area Warnings:

A POOR Air Quality Forecast alert issued by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) due to forecast elevated particle and ozone levels in Sydney for today (Tuesday).

Air Quality

You can sign up to an account to get air quality alerts via e-mail or SMS here.

This information is also available by calling the NSW Environment Line:

  • 131 555 (local call cost throughout NSW)
  • (02) 9995 5555 (if calling from outside NSW).

Air quality index data is based on ‘Sydney East’ region data.

  • Current Air Quality Index (as of 3pm): 141 (Poor)
  • NYE Forecasted Air Quality Index: POOR (100 to  149) due to  OZONE + PARTICLES 

    Disclaimer: The data used in the forecast above have undergone only preliminary quality assurance checks. These data may require modification during final stages of validation as a result of calibration changes, power failures, instrument failures etc.

    Air quality 10 times worse than normal (450-850 index) is deemed ok to fire the fireworks based on the NYE2001 precedent.

Poor Air Quality

Sensitive groups include:

  • people with lung disease or heart disease
  • children
  • older adults
  • pregnant women.

Sensitive groups should reduce or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities.

People with heart or lung disease should reduce exercising outdoors.

Other adults are not likely to be affected when the AQI is in this range.


  • If you’re sensitive to smoke or have a pre-existing condition that could be made worse, please delay coming to the event early
  • If you suffer from asthma, other respiratory conditions such as chronic bronchitis (also called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD), or cardiovascular disease, make sure you have your reliever medicine handy.
  • Don’t smoke indoors
  • Take public transport
  • Regularly ventilate your home to remove indoor pollutants and build up of moisture. Turn on exhaust fans, particularly when bathing, showering, cooking, doing laundry and drying clothes.
  • Don’t use wood-fired stoves and wood-burning heaters (fire places) in your home if possible. If you do use a wood-burning heater, follow the recommendations on this factsheet on wood-burning heaters to minimise air pollution
  • Don’t use unflued gas heaters if possible. If you do use an unflued gas heater, follow the recommendations on this factsheet on unflued gas heaters
  • Install a kitchen exhaust fan above your gas cook top if possible
  • Consider limiting burning candles and incense
  • Don’t use ozone generators for managing indoor air pollution or odour problems. Read this factsheet on ozone generators.


This is the crucial data point as it will give an indication of how well you can see the fireworks. The most relevant monitoring station (Cook & Phillip Park) is new so there is no comparison to previous data.

Visibility is a good indicator for smoke.  While visibility is also affected by dust, the instrument is more sensitive to smoke.

Current Visibility (as of 3pm): 80 (Fair)

Fire Danger

  • Current Fire Danger Rating: Severe (67%)
  • Tomorrow’s Fire Danger Rating: Very High (50%)
  • Fire Weather Warnings: Yes (see top of page)
  • Total Fire Ban?: Yes before Midnight only

Sydney New Year’s Eve 2019 (the event not it’s spectators) has been exempted from the total fire ban before Midnight.

If you are watching from a National Park vantage point, you should pay extra attention to this section.


Current Wind Speed (as of 4:50pm): 33km/h

Very fast winds are normally the only thing that can cancel or postpone the fireworks on the night. However, the lead-up to this NYE has been anything but normal in Australia with the tragic bushfires being experienced for nearly 5 months non-stop.

90km/h winds on NYE2002 caused the cancellation of the 9pm Family Fireworks.

If there are very fast winds, it is expected:

  1. Any affected display would be ‘downgraded’. That is, higher & larger pyrotechnics would be ‘deleted’ from the display’s programming. If no pyrotechnics are safe to fire, the below events are expected to happen. Any delay could allow an ‘upgrade’ back to original programming.
  2. 9pm Family Fireworks will be postponed to a time no later than 10:30pm.
  3. If still very windy at 10:30pm, the 9pm Family Fireworks would be postponed to Australia Day.
  4. If very windy at Midnight, the fireworks would not be held on the night. Since a Midnight Fireworks has never been cancelled on the night, this would be unprecedented. There is a slight chance they too can be postponed to Australia Day.
  5. Calling Country would still be held but without pyrotechnics

For International visitors information, Australia Day is currently January 26.

The ideal wind is one not too fast to risk safety but fast enough to blow away the pyrotechnics’ smoke quickly.

The wind forecast currently looks worrying.  A Marine Strong Wind Warning has been issued for Sydney Harbour with southerly winds of 20 to 30 knots (37 to 55km/h) forecasted for the evening. A slight (20%) chance of a thunderstorm in the evening is also forecast. These storms, if severe, could feature 90km/h+ winds, which would be enough to cancel the fireworks. A warning will be issued if such winds arise. However, if a storm does not arise or does but passes before the fireworks, it is expected the fireworks will go ahead unless it arrives mid-display. At this stage, the 9pm Family Fireworks look like they may be impacted by a storm – the likelihood is there around 9pm.

Whilst it is obviously not ideal to watch the fireworks with the wind hitting your face, it is difficult to move vantage points on this night at this particular event as that could mean sacrificing an iconic view. Choose your vantage point wisely (if you haven’t paid for one yet).

Pyrotechnic smoke affected areas based on this forecast include:

SydneyNYE2019 Predicted Pyrotechnic Smoke Path (based on 31 December 4:20pm Sydney area wind forecast) Satellite Image: Google Maps

Apologies: The listings/maps of the 24/12/2019, 25/12/2019 & 26/12/2019 were incorrect. The smoke should be drawn going the opposite direction and the vantage points listed should have been on the opposite side of the Harbour.

Any pyrotechnic smoke should leave after less than half a minute.


Prepare for rain in any case. Currently, there is a forecast of a slight (20%) chance of any rain, a shower or a thunderstorm in the evening. Last year, sudden thunderstorms appeared around 6pm giving the crowd an unexpected drenching. However, rain will not cancel the fireworks. In fact, despite misconceptions, rain makes fireworks look better. However, as you can read above, if damaging winds feature in a severe thunderstorm, a warning will be issued and the damaging winds could cancel the 9pm Family Fireworks.

UltraViolet/Sunburn Protection

Ultra Violet Index: 9 [Very High]

Sun Protection: Recommended from 9:20 am to 4:30 pm

It is therefore advised during those times to:

  • Slip on sun-protective clothing
  • Slop on SPF30+ sunscreen every 2 hours
  • Slap on a broad-brimmed hat
  • Seek shade
  • Slide on wrap-around sunglasses

Current Temperature (as of 4:50pm): 32.4 Degrees Celsius

Historical Average Weather Data

  • Minimum Temperature: 20 degrees Celsius
  • Maximum Temperature: 29 degrees Celsius
  • Rainfall: 1mm
  • Pan Evaporation: 8mm
  • Sunshine Hours: 9
  • Maximum Wind Speed: 41 kilometres per hour
  • Air Quality Index: 44-79 (Good/Fair)
  • Fire Danger Rating: Low-Moderate/High (25%)
  • Sun Protection Recommendation Times: 8:47am to 5:17pm
  • UV Index: 14 (Extreme)

Sources: Bureau Of Meteorology, NSW Department Of Planning, Industry & Environment, Rural Fire Service & NSW Health

Disclaimer: Sydney Spectaculars takes no responsibility for your final choice of vantage point nor whether the event goes ahead. These are only forecasts based on official expert sources. The choice of vantage point is yours alone & the event is run at the discretion of the City Of Sydney. The weather could change suddenly on the day & during the night of the event. It is a forecast after all.

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