Seasonal Bushfire Outlook update
Published Date: 01 Dec 2016
The Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre has updated the seasonal bushfire outlook for Southern Australia.
The bushfire seasonal outlook for 2016-2017 has been re-examined for southern Australia due to a combination of weather factors. Following on from a wet winter across large parts of southern Australia (the second wettest winter on record for the country), September saw further rainfall, with more records broken in parts of central and western New South Wales, western Victoria, eastern South Australia and western Queensland. Further rainfall is expected to be average to below average in most areas, and when this is coupled with summer temperatures that are forecast to
be average to above average, more areas are now expected to experience above normal fire conditions.
This risk is predominantly in grassland areas of Victoria and New South Wales, with above average rainfall leading to ideal growing conditions. As temperatures warm, this grass will dry, increasing the risk. These conditions have resulted in an update to the Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook.
This new edition, released as Hazard Note 23, replaces the previous Outlook, published as Hazard Note 19 in August 2016. While Victoria, NSW and Queensland are the areas to receive an update to the map, all states and the ACT are warning of increased grass fire danger, particularly as the fire season progresses.
Other changes to the fire potential are in Western Australia, where the fire risk in the South Western Gascoyne has been reassessed as normal due to the predicted increase in grass fuel loads not eventuating, with soil moisture returning to normal during spring.
In Victoria’s east, normal fire conditions are now predicted due to a drying of fuels since the August outlook. This area was previously classified as below normal fire potential. The above map reveals the updated bushfire outlook for 2016-2017 for southern Australia, and has been combined with the outlook for the northern fire season, released as Hazard Note 18 in July 2016. It is important to remember that normal fire conditions can still produce fast running and large fires.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Spring grass growth in the NSW southern border regions has resulted in an amended outlook for this area, with above normal fire potential now indicated. As indicated in the August outlook (see Hazard Note 19), a majority of central NSW has above normal fire potential, with prolific grass growth experienced during the spring, and a forecast
tending towards above average temperatures for summer. These temperatures are likely to result in accelerated grass curing and increased fire danger.