Victorians living in or travelling into regional areas have been warned by CFA to take care this weekend, when fire risk will be elevated and severe thunderstorms predicted.
Fire Danger Ratings will be High and Very High across most of the state tomorrow, Saturday 18 December, and are forecast to increase to a Severe Fire Danger Rating in the Mallee and Wimmera fire weather districts by Sunday.
Unpredictable winds and severe thunderstorms are expected across much of the weekend.
The Bureau of Meteorology predicts thunderstorms extending from the west from Saturday morning will become more frequent over the east in the afternoon. It will be a warm to hot day, with a fresh and gusty south-westerly wind change during the day.
On Sunday, fresh and gusty westerly winds are expected to extend from the west during the day, further elevating the fire risk. Severe thunderstorms are possible later in the day in the east and northeast of the state.
CFA Acting Chief Officer Garry Cook said the weather was typical of this season’s La Nina weather pattern, which has brought decent rainfall in during spring and early summer.
“However, now the fuel’s drying out and the temperature is rising and we’ve got unpredictable winds across Saturday and Sunday, so Victorians need to understand that the fire risk is there,” he said.
“We urge anyone in regional areas of Victoria, particularly those in the Wimmera and the Mallee, to stay alert to conditions, make sure they have downloaded the VicEmergency app and stay informed.
“That includes anyone planning to travel this weekend – it’s really important to look at the Fire Danger Ratings of the areas you will travelling to and through. Setting up ‘watch zones’ in the VicEmergency app before you leave means you will receive warnings about any fires that may start near you.
“Make sure you know what to do if a fire starts near you and carry an emergency kit in your car.”
Acting Chief Officer Cook also urged campers and farmers to be mindful of conditions and take care, with farmers currently harvesting asked to follow a voluntary harvesting guide to cease harvesting at a suggested trigger.
“Grass and crop fires are prevalent this season and can move at speeds of up to 25km per hour and jump highways,” he said.
- Victorians can find out “Can I or Can’t I?” information at cfa.vic.gov.au/can or by calling VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226. All burn-offs should be registered online at firepermits.vic.gov.au or with the VicFire Burn-off notification line on 1800 668 511.
- CFA has a free, publicly available Bushfire Safety for Workers e-learning module on how to stay safe if faced with a bushfire situation.