Media ReleaseFrom: Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
The bushfire outlook across northern Australia is mixed this year due to the variability in rainfall from the last wet season. While temperatures were high across the north, the mixed rainfall resulted in parts northern Western Australia, northern Queensland and the Top End of the Northern Territory receiving above to very much above average rainfall, and other areas receiving below average rain.
- Western Australia had its third wettest wet season on record, resulting in strong vegetation growth. Above normal fire potential is expected for the Dampierland, Pilbara and Carnarvon regions, as well as parts of the central Kimberley and Ord Victoria Plain.
- In Queensland, the rain fell early last wet season, but conditions have been dry to average since April. Above normal fire potential is expected in forested areas impacted by Cyclone Debbie last year, and Cyclone Marcia in 2015, due to the changes in the vegetation structure. Savanna country north of Normanton also has above normal fire potential due to strong vegetation growth from the wet season rainfall.
- The Northern Territory is expecting normal fire potential due to average fuel (vegetation) loads and effective mitigation burning.
Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC CEO Dr Richard Thornton said variable wet season rainfall was behind the bushfire conditions this year.
“It is a bit of a mixed bag this year across northern Australia. Western Australia had a good wet season and the vegetation growth behind that is driving the above normal fire potential in the north west, while other areas did not receive as much rain,” Dr Thornton said.
“Northern Australia is extremely fire prone, and it is important to remember normal fire conditions will still produce fast running fires. Everyone across the north, including the many holiday makers enjoying the dry season conditions, should ensure that they are fire ready and have fire plans in place well ahead of time. When the conditions are right, hot and windy days, with dry vegetation, fires will occur.”
The Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC can speak about the bushfire outlook as a whole across northern Australia, and the science behind it. For detailed comment on the bushfire potential in each state or territory, contact the relevant state/territory fire agency.
The bushfire outlook provides information to assist fire and land management agencies in making strategic decisions such as resource planning and prescribed fire management to reduce the negative impacts of bushfire.