Communities in Australia have been urged to prepare for what is likely to be the worst bushfire season since the 2019-20 black summer fires.
Areas Largely Untouched During 2019-20 Also At Elevated Risk
The Australasian Fire Authorities Council (Afac) predicts an “increased risk” of bushfires in large swathes of the country due to forecasts of above-average temperatures, changing weather patterns, reduced rainfall and high fuel loads.
Areas at increased risk include Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory, with areas largely untouched during the previous disaster, including the Sydney basin and coastal regions, also at elevated risk.
Afac’s chief executive Rob Webb delivered a strong message to the communities to plan and prepare. While fire has always been a regular part of the Australian landscape in spring, the climate emergency is exacerbating circumstances by increasing fires’ intensity and duration.
Climate Change – The New Wildcard
Webb stressed the need to stay alert over the coming months, regardless of the location, adding almost the entire country could expect warmer and drier conditions than normal this spring. The alarm comes amid recent devastating wildfires in Canada, Greece and Hawaii, killing dozens.
A triple La Nina weather event introduced Australia to well-above-average rainfall and flooding over the past few years. Now ideal growing conditions following the event have led to high fuel and grass loads that are predicted to dry out soon, supporting possible intense fires.
The country’s longest-serving fire commissioner, Greg Mullins, also raised concerns over global heating, stressing “our fire seasons are now months longer than they used to be.”