High fire potential for 2009-10 southern bushfire season
Above normal fire potential is expected over most of the south-east of Australia in the coming months. For the first time, all of Victoria, south-eastern New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, and the southern areas of South Australia are rated by fire and land management agencies as having such a high level of fire potential for the bushfire season.
Bushfire CRC scientists at the Bureau of Meteorology have worked with fire managers around Australia to evaluate the fire potential of the upcoming season for the southern parts of Australia and combined this with predictions made earlier for the northern bushfire season. The result is the Bushfire map Fire Potential Outlook for Australia 2009-2010 that shows which areas are above, below or in-line with the normal fire potential for this time of year.
Above normal fire potential is indicated through most parts of the south-west Land Division due to increased grassland fuels following recent winter rains across the southwest forests and grasslands combined with anticipated El Nino conditions. A normal fire potential is expected through the Gascoyne, Goldfields, Eucla and parts of the interior after near average rainfall.
Above average fire potential is indicated in the southern and eastern parts of the state. In the eastern part of the west coast, eastern and Lower Eyre Peninsula, the mid-north and the lower southeast the rainfall received to date along with favourable growing conditions should produce abundant grass fuel. In the Murraylands and the Riverland, the potential is due to both an ongoing rainfall deficit and land use changes. Normal levels of activity are expected in the southern parts of the pastoral areas due to average rainfall, and on Kangaroo Island due to above average rainfall.
Above normal fire potential is expected for all of Victoria; a result of a persistent long-term rainfall deficit over the state. Forested areas in the Dandenong Ranges, Otway Ranges, the Grampians, the Macedon–Bendigo corridor, East Gippsland, and the water catchments of Melbourne are areas of particular concern. In all regions an early start to the fire season is likely. While recent rainfall totals in many areas of the state have been about average, it is not expected to mitigate the longer-term drying in the state.
New South Wales and ACT
In northern New South Wales, the region of above normal potential results from heavy rains earlier in the year being followed by recent rainfall deficits allowing the abundant fuel to dry. Predicted above average spring temperatures are expected to continue this drying trend.
In southern New South Wales and the ACT generally below average winter rains compound the long term rainfall deficiencies experienced across the region. This combined with predicted above average spring temperatures will lead to dry fuels over the southeast, and potentially early curing over the southern inland. Winter rains were especially sparse over southeast New South Wales to the east of the ranges where unseasonable fire activity has already occurred.
Above normal fire potential is expected from the Toowoomba escarpment south to the New South Wales border and extending north-west towards Charleville. This area extends to the North Coast Region as late autumn rainfall in coastal areas and wet soil and fuel conditions delayed prescribed burning in the region.
A normal bushfire potential is expected in the Brisbane and Southeast Region, and west of a line from Charleville to Blackall due to lower fuel loads.
Above average winter rainfall in Tasmania has left much of the eastern half of the state with lower than normal fire potential, while the coastal strip from the east and across the north coast, plus all of the southwest, has normal fire potential.
A large area of below-average fire potential exists in Central Australia, as several years of below-average rains have left little fuel in this area.
ACT Parks, Conservation, and Lands
ACT Emergency Services Authority
ACT Fire Brigade
ACT Rural Fire Service
Bureau of Meteorology
Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre
Country Fire Authority (Vic)
Department of Sustainability and Environment (Vic)
Melbourne Water (Vic)
Tasmania Fire Service
Department of Environment and Conservation (WA)
Fire and Emergency Services Authority (WA)
Country Fire Service (SA)
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
NSW Fire Brigades
NSW Rural Fire Service