26 September 2023

Summer fires expected even after floods

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Despite catastrophic flooding and the wettest October on record, large parts of NSW are now facing an above normal fire potential, according to the National Council for Fire & Emergency Services’ (AFAC*) summer outlook.

Releasing its Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Summer 2022, AFAC said persistent above average rainfall across most of NSW during spring had resulted in very high soil moisture and flooding throughout many areas.

“These wet conditions will continue to promote grass growth, further adding to existing high fuel loads,” AFAC said.

“Early summer fire activity is expected to remain below normal in flood affected regions,” it said.

“However, with an expected return to more normal rainfall conditions over summer, these grass fuels are likely to cure and become more susceptible to fire.”

AFCA said this would result in an above average fire potential later in summer, with the chance of exceeding average fire danger in grassland areas increasing towards the end of the quarter.

It said that while the recent rain assisted in the recovery of areas burnt during the 2019-20 season, the areas were likely to experience a below average fire potential due to lower fuel loads and wet conditions.

“Climate and fuel conditions will be closely monitored leading into the Autumn quarterly outlook, particularly in western parts of the state as the current climate drivers break down leading to drier conditions,” AFAC said.

“Very high grass fuel loads could result in larger, more intense fires in NSW despite the onset of cooler weather,” it said.

AFAC’s Summer Outlook can be accessed at this PS News link.

*Note: AFAC changed its name from Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council to ‘The National Council for Fire & Emergency Services’ but has kept its original acronym.

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