26 September 2023

Wet weather no washout for bushfire season

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Despite the forecast of a wet Spring there are likely to be periods of elevated fire danger in certain parts of that State according to the National Council for Fire and Emergency Services’ (AFAC*) Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Spring.

Issuing its Spring Outlook, AFAC said persistent above average rainfall across much of NSW had resulted in unusually high fuel loads in grasslands and shrublands.

“Grass and shrubland fuels respond quickly to periods of low rainfall and high temperatures,” the Council said.

“Given the high fuel loads, and despite the forecast of wetter than average conditions, there are likely to be periods of elevated fire danger in grassland and cropping areas, particularly in the northwest and southwest during the spring forecast period,” FACA said.

“It should also be noted that if the above median forecast rainfall does not eventuate, these high grass fuel loads will pose an above normal grass fire risk during the period.”

AFAC said wet conditions had also assisted the recovery of areas burnt in the 2019-20 season but these areas were expected to remain at below normal fire potential due to reduced fuel loads and high fuel moisture.

It said that despite the wetter conditions, normal fire potential was predicted in other forested areas due to high fuel loads.

“In summary, NSW is expecting predominantly normal fire potential over the outlook period with the exception of areas burnt in the 2019-20 season, though it is likely that the onset of the fire danger period in the north of the State will be delayed due to the wetter conditions,” the Council said.

“Leading into the Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for summer, we will be closely monitoring climate and fuel state,” it said.

“If the current climate drivers break down and result in a drier outlook, very high grass fuel loads could result in larger and more intense fires in NSW.”

AFAC’s five-page Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Spring 2022 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 abbreviation.

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