News & Media

Grass fire risk with update to fire outlook

By: Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

Category: Community Safety, Planning & Research

  4.40 PM 30 November, 2016


Location: General

Views: 2864

The Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC has today released an update to the Southern Australia Bushfire Outlook.

Following on from a wet winter across large parts of southern Australia (the second wettest winter on record for the country), September saw further rainfall, with more records broken in parts of central and western New South Wales, western Victoria, eastern South Australia and western Queensland. With this in mind, the bushfire seasonal outlook has been re-examined.

Further rainfall is expected to be average to below average in most areas, and when this is coupled with summer temperatures that are forecast to be average to above average, more areas are now expected to experience above normal fire conditions. This increase in fire potential is predominantly in grassland areas of Victoria and New South Wales, with above average rainfall leading to ideal growing conditions. As temperatures warm, this grass will dry, increasing the risk. 

Victoria details

An above normal bushfire season is likely across most of Victoria. A departure from longer term drying trends is countered by close to ideal growing conditions for crops and pasture. Severe long term rainfall deficiencies remain in many parts of western Victoria and West and South Gippsland, and may increase the fire risk in forests mid-season. This risk may be pronounced where recent rainfall has not been abundant, such as in West and South Gippsland. In these areas forest fire risk is likely to increase early in summer, along with grass fire risk.

 Above to very much above average rain across the state over the last six months has yielded above average or well above average grass fuel, with prolific grass growth in the state‚Äôs north.In some central and south western areas growth has been limited until now by cooler than normal conditions. 

The emergence of widespread fire risk from grass curing is likely to occur later than usual. This may mean crop harvesting in northern and western areas coincides with more severe or extreme fire danger, while expected milder temperatures and available soil moisture near to the south west coast may see curing delayed until February.

The advancement of curing and fire risk is likely to progress quickly across Victoria once temperatures begin to warm and a trend of strong drying in the
far east has emerged with an increasing dominance of westerly winds. This area has normal fire potential, and the emergence of forest fire risk is expected to consolidate around Christmas. These areas will be closely monitored for further emerging trends throughout summer.

This updated Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook, released as Hazard Note 23 by the CRC, replaces the previous Outlook, published as Hazard Note 19 in August 2016. Download the update http://www.bnhcrc.com.au/hazardnotes/23

Last Updated: 30 November 2016