Above average fire potential for state's east

Above average fire potential for state's east


Eastern Victoria faces above normal fire potential for the 2019/20 fire season.


Eastern Victoria faces above normal fire potential for the 2019/20 fire season.

It's the same story along most of Australia's east coast from Hobart, Tasmania, to almost Townsville, Queensland.

We've already seen an early start to the fire season in parts of eastern Australia.

What changes bushfire potential from one year to another includes the amount of fuel, the expected rainfall and temperature patterns, and the readiness of firefighting resources.

Rainfall during the first eight months of the year for Victoria was close to average in parts of the south, north-east and the Wimmera but for most of the state it's been drier than usual.

January to August rainfall totals are in the driest 10 per cent of historic records across Central Gippsland and the Mallee.

At the same time, year-to-date maximum temperatures are tracking hottest on record for much of central and eastern Victoria.

The high temperatures have increased evaporation.

Over a longer time span, the 17 months from April 2018 to August 2019, parts of Central Gippsland are driest on record and the northern Mallee is severely rainfall deficient.

Looking ahead, there's not much relief on the horizon.

The Bureau's November outlook to January shows below average rainfall is likely.

At the same time, it's very likely (more than an 80pc chance) days will be warmer than usual except in the far south.

Nights are expected to be warmer than average in the north-east, while much of the south and west has roughly equal chances of warmer or cooler than average nights.

The dry conditions mean that warm and windy weather will likely increase fire risk.

Global warming means that above average temperatures now occur in most years.

Australia's climate has warmed by over 1 degrees since 1910.

Cool season (April to October) rainfall over south-east Australia has fallen around 11pc since the late 1990s.

The warming trend combined with the drying trend means the fire season is getting worse.

Victoria's annual Forest Fire Danger Index has risen about 50pc since 1950.

Southern Australia is one of the most bushfire prone parts of the world. Serious and destructive bushfires can occur even in relatively benign seasons.

Above normal fire potential over Victoria's east means there is an above normal chance of a bushfire requiring fire fighting resources from outside the area it started in.


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