The influence of La Niña on Victoria’s climate over summer has suppressed bushfire conditions in Victoria into autumn, which is expected to bring average rainfall and warmer-than-average temperatures.
According to latest Australian Seasonal Outlook for Autumn released yesterday, while spring rainfall generated high grass growth, fires have not been widespread because La Niña conditions have resulted in more moderate fire weather.
The conditions have led to reduced fire activity in both grasslands and forests, with a cumulative area of 12,240 hectares burnt to date this season compared to the 10-year average of 252,026 hectares burnt per year.
La Niña conditions are likely to erode throughout the outlook period of March to May, with climate models predicting average rainfall. However, temperatures are predicted to be warmer than normal, particularly in the western parts of the state.
Country Fire Authority Chief Officer Jason Heffernan welcomed news that the soil moisture in Victorian forests was likely to remain wetter than average, reducing the bushfire potential.
However, he cautioned that the western parts of the State are dry and if started under hot and windy weather, fires could pose significant control issues for fire agencies.
“We’re pleased that this fire season has been significantly milder than in some recent years and welcome the opportunity for planned burning to take place in many parts of Victoria due to the conditions forecast for this autumn,” Chief Officer Heffernan said.
“However, we also remind all Victorians that the whole state, except for East Gippsland, is still under fire restrictions, so make sure you visit firepermits.vic.gov.au if you’re wanting to undertake any burning on private property.
“We also urge Victorians to stay informed about conditions and keep their bushfire plan up to date as we can still see some days of elevated fire danger well into autumn. If you have a plan, you can act to survive.”