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Perth, Melb, NSW in for risky fire seasons

AAP logoAAP 31/08/2016 Luke Costin

BUSHFIRE OUTLOOK FOR SOUTHERN AUSTRALIA:

THE RISK

Above normal bushfire risk:

* most parts of NSW west of Great Dividing Range

* western and northwest Victoria, extending into SA's Mallee and Melbourne's northern outskirts.

* southwest WA including Perth; the western Nullarbor; and Gascoyne

Below normal:

* Victoria's Far East Gippsland

Normal:

* all other areas

ACT

Wetter-than-average for this time of the year. Fuel levels in grasslands and bushland is expected to remain low until mid-summer.

NSW

Delayed start to the fire season likely due to above average rain falling in winter and more on the way. But changes to the Indian Ocean Dipole, a warming of the sea surface temperatures, and El Nino conditions will bring warmer-than-average temperature that will dry out forest and grasslands.

SOUTHERN QLD

Forested areas, except the Gold Coast hinterland, have enjoyed above-average rainfall but west of the Diving Range, soil moisture is relatively dry so an active fire season is still probable.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Thanks to soaking rains, many forested areas are not expected to burn as they have in previous years and the wet winter has authorities expecting a traditional fire season.

TASMANIA

Forest fuels are below or at a normal potential of burning but grasslands may pose a threat in the height of summer. Planned burning will be very limited.

VICTORIA

Victoria can expect an increased risk of grassfire this season while late spring drying has the potential to escalate bushfire behaviour in forested areas in late summer.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Recent bushfires in the South West has reduced fuel loads in some areas but on a wider scale, grass and bush levels remain high. Meanwhile, there is an underlying long-term deficit in soil moisture.

Above-average soil moisture - which encourages high grass growth - is raising the threat of bushfires in the Gascoyne and the Eucla.

Source: Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre

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