How bad will bushfire season be, and what do you need to do?
AUSTRALIANS need to be prepared for above average fire risk this year, according to the 2019 Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook.
The Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC) has published its pre-fire season outlook, which takes into account the amount of fuel, as well the existing and forecast weather conditions.
The climate outlook for spring is mainly influenced by the Indian Ocean, together with other factors including long-term trends.
Ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific remain close to average, with no El Niño or La Niña expected to develop in the coming months.
Other influences include Tasman Sea pressure patterns, which are favouring a reduction in onshore flow for parts of the east coast of Australia, and are likely contributing to the warmer and drier conditions forecast across NSW and southern Queensland.
The likelihood of drier conditions is stronger in October compared with September.
The outlook for spring maximum temperatures favours above average daytime temperatures for nearly all of Australia.
Historical accuracy for spring maximum temperatures is moderate to high for most of Australia.
At the beginning of August, the NSW Department of Primary Industries mapped nearly all of NSW into one of three drought categories, with approximately 55 per cent of the state drought affected, 23 per cent experiencing drought, and 17 per cent experiencing intense drought.
Widespread significant soil moisture deficit has resulted in an early start to the fire danger period for many local government areas in NSW.
With the short to medium-range climate outlooks favouring warmer and drier than average conditions across much of the state, there is significant concern for the potential of an above normal fire season in forested areas on and east of the Great Dividing Range.
Above normal fire potential is forecast for densely populated parts of Australia along the east coast of Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, as well as parts of southern WA and South Australia.
DO YOU HAVE AN EVACTUATION PLAN?
"We're working with councils, states and territories to keep Australians safe this summer. We cannot afford to be complacent," Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management, David Littleproud said.
"Think about your evacuation plans and think about what you need to take with you.
"Talk to your neighbours, ask them about their evacuation plan and let them know about your plan.
"If we work together and look out for each other, we'll get through the bushfire season.
"People wanting more information on how to plan and prepare, should contact their local fire service."
Red Cross has tools and resources to help people prepare for disasters, available at www.redcross.org.au
- It has been the fifth-driest start to the year on record, and the driest since 1970.
- This is especially the case in the south which has experienced the driest January to July on record (January to July 1902 is the second driest).
- The east coast of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, as well as parts of southern Western Australia and South Australia face above normal fire potential.
- The BNHCRC provides information to assist fire authorities in making strategic decisions such as resource planning and prescribed fire management to reduce the damage caused by bushfire.
- It draws together all of Australia and New Zealand's fire and emergency service authorities with leading experts across a range of scientific fields to explore the causes, consequences and mitigation of natural disasters.