BOM weather radar Australia on alert for second La Niña in a row which could increase flooding and bushfires this summer

27 September 2021

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AUSTRALIA – After last year enduring the weather event known as La Niña that resulted in wetter than normal conditions across the country, Australians are now being warned to prepare for possible higher than average rainfalls starting this spring.

Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Miriam Bradbury spoke with The Morning Show to explain why La Niña could return for the second year in a row, potentially bringing higher than average rainfall and even flash-flooding.

Bradbury revealed there was a 50 per cent chance that the coming months could be wetter than normal.

“A 50 per cent chance means there is twice the normal likelihood of a La Niña forming. So that actually puts us in a La Niña ‘watch’ at the moment, so not a full La Niña event just yet, but a ‘watch’.

“In terms of what that means for Australia … that’s an increased likelihood of above-average rainfall across Northern and Eastern Australia.

“But I think what’s important to remember here is La Niña isn’t the only climate driver which can impact Australia’s weather. For example, this year we’ve seen a weak Indian Ocean dipole (warm waters around Indonesia encouraging evaporation and increasing the chance of rain) at play quite a bit, so something like La Niña is never in the game by itself,” she explained.

Bradbury spoke of how even though last summer’s La Niña event was rated as being relatively mild, parts of Australia still experienced extreme rainfall.

“It was a pretty weak La Niña event, that said we did still see some significant periods in that summer. So December 2020 was actually the third-wettest on record for Australia, with most of that rainfall falling across northern Australia”, she said.

And while Australia may see higher-than-average rainfall, that is no guarantee that we will be spared from the ravages of a fierce bushfire season.

“The reason for this is we have to think about fuel when we talk about bushfires, so what’s available to burn?

“A lot of the time if we see a lot of rain through spring and summer that can lead to the grasses and bushland growing a lot more, and then by the time the height of summer rolls around, there’s a lot more there to burn.

“In terms of our bushfire outlook for the coming summer, we are actually going to see that across northern New South Wales and southeast Queensland.

“There’s been a lot of growth of grasses and crops in those areas thanks to the rainfall through the year, so there is an above-normal risk of bushfires in those areas,” warned Bradbury.

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