Parts of Western Australia’s South West and Gascoyne, including Perth, are being tipped for heightened fire potential this year, as the state is projected to bake through another hot summer.
Released today, the 2021 Bushfire Seasonal Outlook said higher than normal grass fuel loads combined with predicted high temperatures over summer had elevated the fire potential.
“This is expected to result in an above normal fire potential for the Pilbara, Gascoyne and Murchison as well as for the Swan Coastal Plain, Jarrah Forest, and western most parts of the Esperance Plains and Mallee Bioregions,” the report said.
Normal fire potential is expected for the remainder of the state, including the far north.
Rain delays fire season
Jon Broomhall from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services said normally the bushfire season would start in November, but due to a wet winter and spring it was set to begin later.
But he warned once the soil dried, the bushfire risk would be heightened.
"As the soil dries in the landscape and the temperatures are increasing, that increases the risk of bushfire," Mr Broomhall said.
"It only takes one hot, windy day for a bushfire to start."
He called on people to prepare their properties now and download the My Bushfire Plan app on their mobile phones.
Hot, dry and humid
The Bureau of Meteorolgy’s (BOM) summer climate outlook, also released today, tips much of WA to have warmer than normal minimum and maximum temperatures, particularly for coastal areas.
The exception is the south coast, where temperatures will be closer to average.
For Perth, the average summer maximum is 30.7 degrees, and the minimum 17.6.
BOM head of operational climate services Andrew Watkins said it may also be more humid this year.
“We could get bursts of more humid weather coming down the coast at times as well, which is fairly typically of La Nina and when you get those warm currents down the WA coast,” he said.
The state is also expected to be on average when it comes to rainfall – typically minimal in southern Australian summer.
This comes in contrast to the rainfall forecast for the east, with a higher risk of cyclones, heavy rainfall, and flooding under influence of La Nina.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s climate outlooks are based on the physics of the oceans, atmosphere, land and ice, including long term climate trends.
Fire season length and severity is increasing across much of Australia, particularly across inland eastern Australia and coastal Western Australia.
The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report pin-points South-West WA, in particular, as one of the few regions in the world where the bulk of models agree drying will continue.ABC