Australia — A horror bushfire season awaits southern Australia this summer as a result of the on-going drought, according to the latest forecast from the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre.
Bushfire CRC scientists at the Bureau of Meteorology have worked with fire managers around Australia to evaluate the fire potential of the upcoming season for the southern parts of Australia and combined this with predictions made earlier for the northern bushfire season.
It has produced a Fire Potential Outlook map for Australia 2008-2009 showing that above-normal fire potential is expected for south-western Western Australia, southern portions of South Australia, eastern Tasmania, southern Victoria, south-east Queensland and in northern and central regions of New South Wales.
Dr Chris Lucas, Bushfire CRC scientist at the Bureau of Meteorology, said the outlook for summer shows the impact of good rainfalls in parts of the country and poor rainfalls in others.
“La Nina generally brings widespread rainfall across the continent but what it delivered this year was very patchy,” Dr Lucas said.
“Queensland received a lot of rain leading to a lot of grass growth.
“Northern NSW and the south-west corner of Western Australia received good early rain, but this fell away in the middle of the year.
“Other areas, particularly across southern Australia, have seen below average rainfall all year so the fire potential in these regions is high.
“The fire potential also relates to fuel abundance and availability, recent fire history and the amount of fire-fighting resources available in a particular area.”