According to the latest Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) seasonal report large swathes of the east coast face above normal bushfire risk as the dry and warm conditions show no signs of abating.
The areas facing severe danger include regions in Queensland and NSW that are already struggling with the ongoing drought and the bureau of Meteorology expects most of the country to endure warmer and drier than average weather over the coming months. Its forecast follows what has been one of the driest winters on record for major parts of the country.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s head of long range forecasting Andrew Watkins said that winter was wet in parts of southern Victoria and western Tasmania as well as central Queensland but for most areas experiencing long-term rainfall deficiencies there was little relief adding that the outlook is not indicating an easing of conditions in drought areas.
According to the CRC update, unusually warm and dry conditions since the start of the year have worsened the outlook for the upcoming bushfire season and that Victoria as well as South Australia and Tasmania face above normal fire potential too.
The conditions have already forced NSW to bring forward by 2 months the drought-hit state’s bushfire danger period. The season usually starts in October but kicked off in August after some significant fires in July.
The CRC report says that the southern half of the country experienced its driest January-July period on record and that rainfall in the first 7 months of the year has been below to very much below average over large portions of the country. Areas of above average rainfall were confined to central Queensland, extending to the coast and that the year to date has been unusually warm and dry for large parts of Australia and the 2019-2020 fire season has the potential to be an active season following on from a very warm and dry start to the year.