Wet weathers adds fuel to fire

Central Victoria is likely to experience rapidly escalating fire behaviour in late summer fuelled by excessive growth, predicted thunderstorms and late heat waves.
Nanjing Night Net

Emergency Management Victoria is preparing for a shorter but more intense fire season, with fire agencies currently planning fuel control.

Ballarat’s wettest September on record has fuelled extreme growth in the area which is expected to dry out in mid-summer causing extreme concern for fire authorities.

The Bureau of Meteorology’smanager of climate prediction Dr Andrew Watkins toldThe Courierabove average bushfire potential was predicted for the whole of Victoria –particularly Central and Western Victoria.

“We’ve actually had very good rainfall into winter and early spring temperatures have been a bit warmer than normal causing good vegetation growth,” Dr Watkins said.

While cooler weather is expected to continue for a few months the excess growth will start to dry out mid summer.

“We have had more growth than usual,and as we head into summer the rainfall and cooler temperatures mean the fire season might start later than normal,” Dr Watkins said.

“Last year we had fires in October, we haven’t seen any so far but we can expect the season to start much closer to the start of summer.”

The Southern Australia Season Bushfire outlook, published before the major rainfall, says the areas above average rainfall coupled with an 80 per cent chance of above average temperatures indicates strong late spring drying is likely in forest areas including the Wombat Forest and Otway Range.

“When we get into mid to late summer the warm temperatures and less rainfall may mean that extra growth will start to dry out,” Dr Watkins said.

A spokeswoman for the state’s emergency services commissioner Craig Lapsley said the next outlook would be released in November.

“The Bushfire Natural Hazards CRC Seasonal Outlook has predicted an above average fire season for Victoria,” she said.

“Even with the recent and continuing rainfall an above average season is still a chance though the season is likely to be later and a little shorter.

“The areas of Victoria not under water will start to dry out as the weather warms, promoting growth and potential fire risk across the State. Traditionally, Victoria’s worst period for fire is in January and February. It is something the fire agencies are aware of and continuing to plan for.”

DELWP has been contacted for comment.

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