BoM warns of fire, flood

THE Bureau of Meteorology has warned Australia to brace for fire and flood this summer in its Summer Climate Outlook, released last Thursday.

Australia can expect a wetter than normal summer, but bush and grass fires cannot be ruled out completely, according to the outlook.

Australia will continue to experience an active La Nia event, expected to remain until at least the beginning of autumn.

The bureau’s head of operational climate services Dr Andrew Watkins said this meant large parts of eastern Australia had an increased risk of flooding.

“While the last three weeks have been dry in many parts of the country – due in part to unfavourable tropical weather patterns – it does not signal a weakening of La Nia,” he said.

“Our climate outlook is the opposite of what we experienced last year in Australia.

“This summer, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland are expected to see above average rainfall, meaning we face an increased risk of widespread floods.”

Dr Watkins said that while the risk of bushfires wasn’t as high as last summer, fires would occur.

“There’s a great chance of grass fires in some areas as recent rain and warm weather have led to vigorous vegetation growth,” he said.

“South-eastern Australia is one of the most fireprone regions in the world.

“Even short periods of hot and dry weather increase the risk of fire in summer.”

Dr Watkins said the outlook was also a reminder for communities to be prepared for heatwaves in coming months.

“Every summer we see heatwaves across southern Australia,” he said.

“This summer heatwaves may not reach the extreme temperatures of recent years, but may be longer duration and more humid, which can still have a significant impact on human health.

“Daytime temperatures in summer are likely to be near average, but there will be periods of high heat combined with milder periods.

“It’s important to keep up to date with the bureau’s heatwave service.”

According to the outlook, Wellington Shire has a 75 per cent chance of exceeding 100mm of rainfall during the next three months, and an above 65 per cent chance of exceeding an above median maximum temperature.

While the outlook indicates wetter than average conditions, the bureau emphasised southern parts of Australia were entering into their drier season, so rainfall was not likely to be sufficient to relieve long-term rainfall deficits.