26 September 2023

Wet weather to warm up grassfire risk

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The increased risk of grassfires across Victoria is to continue with the latest weather data forecasting a wet spring for parts of the State.

This is according to the annual season outlook of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC), which predicts the fire potential of the whole of Australia to help services across the nation prepare for the months and seasons ahead.

Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) said the Outlook showed this year’s average to above-average rainfall across much of the State was likely to bring continued strong grass growth through most areas west and north of the Great Dividing Range, and the potential of increased grassfire conditions once the vegetation dried out.

“Across pastures in the south-west fire district, upper and lower soil layers are already saturated, meaning the average to above-average rainfall forecast for spring will likely lead to normal to above-normal pasture growth conditions,” FRV said.

“As a result, the north-west and west of the State (Wimmera and the Mallee fire districts) may see an increase in fire potential in late spring, prior to harvest,” it said.

“For many forest areas, conditions are currently normal or wetter than normal.”

FRV said the forecast indicated that above-average rainfall in spring could lead to a below average fire risk for summer across the eastern, north-east, central ranges and Otway ranges.

The Agency said the Gippsland fire season was likely to start in early summer due to below-average rainfall across the region in July and predicted higher-than-average temperatures in spring.

“However, the bushfire risk will remain lower across fire impacted areas of East Gippsland and north-east Victoria as forests recover from the recent fire seasons,” it said.

FRV said spring was historically a more challenging time of year for large scale planned burning due to less predictable weather conditions, however, the higher moisture levels in forest areas may provide opportunities to carry out planned burning this year.

The AFAC’s four-page Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for spring can be accessed at this PS News link.

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