Above normal bushfire potential for Kangaroo Island

The wider bushfire danger map with above normal potential highlighted in red.
The wider bushfire danger map with above normal potential highlighted in red.

Kangaroo Island has an above normal bushfire potential heading into spring, while Bureau forecasters are also predicting dry months ahead.

KI was singled as facing a higher than normal bushfire risk for 2019/20 according to the outlook developed by Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and the National Council for Fire & Emergency Services or AFAC.

The outlook states there is a combination of drier than average, and wetter than average conditions, depending on the vegetation type, across the Island.

These conditions may result in above average fuel loads in parts, and drier than average vegetation in others, especially in areas of forested and scrub vegetation, according to the outlook report.

The Australia Seasonal BushfireOutlookAugust 2019is used by fire authorities to make strategic decisions on resource planning and prescribed fire management for the upcoming fire season.

The outlook is developed at an annual workshop convened by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC.

Average to below average rainfall has occurred across South Australia, with some areas experiencing persistent dry conditions since the start of 2018.

In areas of ongoing dry conditions, grass fuel growth is either average, to well below average, which creates the likelihood of normal fire potential in these areas.

This level of fire potential also continues in central and southern parts of South Australia, where average rainfall has occurred. The Bureau of Meteorology's El Nino watch is currently neutral and the Indian Ocean Dipole is forecast to be positive.

Similar forecasts have resulted in drier and warmer than average conditions in the lead up to, and throughout, South Australia's fire season.

The dry spring forecast may result in an earlier start to the fire season in parts of South Australia.

The prolonged dry conditions across much of South Australia is also likely to create increased occurrences of raised dust during the windy conditions that often accompany high fire risk days.

The dust may affect the operational capabilities of aerial firefighting assets and limit their effectiveness.

Fire managers will carefully monitor this issue during the fire season, noting that without rainfall, dust suppression is impossible on the scale required.

There are currently no forecasts indicating any potential for above average rainfall during spring and summer, which may prolong the fire season across parts of South Australia.

Significant bushfires have occurred in similar conditions, and even areas of normal fire potential can expect to experience dangerous bushfires as per a normal South Australian fire season.

FIRE RISK: Kangaroo Island was singled as facing a higher than normal bushfire risk according to the outlook developed by Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and the National Council for Fire & Emergency Services or AFAC.

FIRE RISK: Kangaroo Island was singled as facing a higher than normal bushfire risk according to the outlook developed by Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and the National Council for Fire & Emergency Services or AFAC.

Greens urge action

South Australia will continue to face earlier and earlier starts to the fire season unless the Prime Minister steps up and takes urgent action to tackle the climate crisis, Greens Senator for South Australia Sarah Hanson-Young said.

Responding to the Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook released today, which forecasts an active fire season across Australia and in particular on Kangaroo Island and Eyre Peninsula, Senator Hanson-Young said the PM's lack of climate change policy is putting SA at risk of catastrophic fires not that dissimilar to those burning in the Amazon.

"Today's Seasonal Bushfire Outlook highlights the terrifying reality of inaction on climate change," Senator Hanson-Young said.

"South Australians know all too well the fire risk our state faces and will no doubt prepare for the upcoming season accordingly. But unless the Morrison Government takes action on climate change by phasing out coal and rapidly transitioning to renewables, there will only be so much people can do to protect their properties and their lives.

"We are seeing extremely distressing photos of rainforests and bushland burning in the Amazon, loss of wildlife, and the displacement of people - this is what we face here. We are already in the middle of an extinction crisis in this country and catastrophic weather events have left people without a roof over their heads - how much worse does it need to get before the PM will act?"

Senator Hanson-Young noted the Adelaide City Council declared a Climate Emergency last night and she called on the Federal Government to do the same.

"The coal huggers in the LNP are putting all Australians at risk. The PM cannot sit idly by and let this country burn like he is with the Amazon, he must act now," Senator Hanson-Young said.

Bureau predicts dry season

The Bureau of Meteorology's 2019 Spring Outlook will show most of Australia is likely to experience warmer and drier than average conditions in the coming three months.

The warm and dry outlook for the spring season follows warmer than average winter days for most of Australia, cool nights in many areas, and one of the driest winters on record for large parts of the country.

Bureau head of long-range forecasting Dr Andrew Watkins said the coming three months were unlikely to deliver significant widespread rainfall.

"Unfortunately, the outlook is not indicating an easing of conditions in drought areas." Dr Watkins said.

"But a drier than average outlook is not an outlook for no rain at all. Significant rainfall events are always possible, so it's important to keep a close eye on the seven-day forecast.

"Winter was wet in parts of southern Victoria and western Tasmania, as well as central Queensland, but for most areas experiencing long-term rainfall deficiencies there was little relief."

The outlook for temperature in the coming three months shows most of Australia is likely to see warmer days and nights in the coming three months, with only isolated parts of southern Australia and Tasmania likely to see cooler conditions.

Dr Watkins said a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) was the main climate driver impacting the outlook.

"A positive IOD means we have cooler than average waters between Australia and Indonesia. This generally means less cloud than normal forms to the northwest of Australia, resulting in less rainfall and higher than average temperatures over central and southeastern Australia during winter and spring.

"El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the other main driver, remains neutral, meaning it's having little influence over Australia's climate right now."

Dr Watkins said the 2019 Spring Outlook would also see the introduction of a suite of new climate outlooks products, including outlooks at weekly and fortnightly timescales.

"These new outlooks will begin where the seven-day forecast ends, giving an indication of likely temperature and rainfall in the coming weeks.

"This will essentially bridge the gap between our seven-day forecast and the existing monthly and seasonal climate outlooks.

"The outlooks will also be issued more frequently, which will provide the community and climate-sensitive industries with the most up to date information on likely rainfall and temperatures for the coming weeks and months."

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