Seasonal bushfire outlook Autumn 2023 warns of higher risk to Perth, and SE Qld

The Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Autumn 2023 shows serious rainfall deficits have increased fire risk for Perth and south west of WA, and the usually humid areas of south east Qld and northern NSW.

The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) issued its Autumn bushfire outlook, as the BoM says its medium term outlook: “reflects the status and outlook for several climate drivers, including a declining La Niña.”

AFAC says autumn will bring drier landscapes, with much of the country likely to see below average rainfall and normal to above normal temperatures.

“These conditions result in outlooks for drier than average soil moisture in late autumn for the Murray
Darling Basin, Tasmania and the western WA, suggesting vegetation growth from high moisture in spring
2022 may be drying out in the first half of 2023, leading to high bushfire fuel loads in some places.

Weather map
Rainfall for past three months shows deficits in SE Qld and SW WA. (BoM)

“Elevated fuel loads due to above average grass growth over summer, and expected drier climate
conditions persisting into autumn are driving above normal fire potential in central western WA and the
southern half of WA.

“Likewise, areas of NSW are expected to see elevated risk of fast spreading grass fires. Warm conditions are also driving above normal bushfire potential for southern Queensland in early autumn, extending toward the coast later in the season.”

Also in Cosmos: Triple La Niña and climate change has created extreme levels of fuel for grassfires

AFAC bushfire specialist Dr Simon Heemstra says there is a shift in the climate drivers influencing
Australia, and hazard risks are shifting as well.

“While consecutive La Niña events have now passed, we are left with increased vegetation growth in many locations due to sustained rainfall. This is driving increased fuel loads and fire potential as we move into predicted drier conditions.”

Each state and territory’s assessment takes into account different land use types and vegetation types. This is influenced by different forecasts for temperature and rainfall over these regions.

Rainfall map 2
Rainfall – The chance of above median for April to June (BoM)

The Seasonal Outlook was developed by AFAC, the Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland Fire and
Emergency Services, the NSW Rural Fire Service, ACT Emergency Services Agency, ACT Parks and
Conservation Service, Country Fire Authority, Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action
Victoria, Tasmania Fire Service, SA Country Fire Service, Department of Fire and Emergency Services and Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions WA, and Bushfires NT.

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