The Bureau of Meteorology has issued an “exceptionally high fire danger” in parts of the country as warm air collides with cold fronts over western parts of the country.
The bureau also said that Victoria was expected to be at its warmest this winter, and the temperature was likely to reach 21C in the eastern shore towns of Sandringham and Geelong by Tuesday morning.
A La Nina cold phase predicted for January will not see a significant boost in average rainfall, but could be enough to increase the humidity for fire weather, leading to extreme fire danger in states like Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.
The weather bureau said the La Nina expected in January will lead to an earlier start to dry days in Queensland and Western Australia, with fire activity as summer hits.
Last month, the Mount Ord fire burn reached the record maximum temperature in the southern desert region – and there’s still substantial red zones burning. The weather bureau says the remainder of 2019 should be dry and fire conditions ripe for severe conditions, according to Environment.
During these conditions the bureau has raised fire danger ratings for Western Australia to extreme in the Wheatbelt, Kimberley, Gascoyne, and Central Desert regions, for South Australia in the Murraylands, Eyre Peninsula, and parts of the north and north-west coast of the state, and across Victoria in the Mallee, East Gippsland, Gippsland, Central Desert, and Eastern Mallee districts.
Bureau of Meteorology
These regions in November and December have had the hottest September and October on record for Perth, and the hottest October and November on record for many parts of Western Australia.
Many parts of the north-west of New South Wales have hit the record hottest November average temperature on record, including Grafton, Port Macquarie, Bega, Armidale, Wagga Wagga, Cobar, Cobar, and Mudgee.
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But over winter the extreme heat over the country has been widely spread, from the Northern Territory to parts of Queensland. A heatwave that saw temperatures exceed 40C in a lot of parts of the Northern Territory has led to significant fire danger ratings.
Parts of Queensland have recorded temperatures of 43C in days, and the BOM says that the days may well exceed 40C in February in the Torres Strait region, the Daintree rainforest, and the Mackay region.
Temperatures in New South Wales have been above average, with many regions experiencing “frequent warm and dry winds”. The city of Wagga Wagga recorded a monthly average temperature of 23.8C in November, and recorded its hottest day of the year on Saturday, when the temperature reached 40.8C. The bureau said “excessive” bushfire danger ratings were forecast for the Murray, Coomera, Eurobodalla, and Bellingen coastal districts, the north-west, south-west, and south coast of New South Wales.
The bureau said that fires in New South Wales would be “particularly challenging” for fire fighting and paramedic crews because the hot days would trigger higher mortality, making the fire risk greater. The bureau said that the height of the fire season in New South Wales could run until the end of January, and that into April the fire danger would increase.
The bureau did note some areas in the south-west of New South Wales would experience higher than average humidity this summer.
On the fire outlook map, the western part of the Murray region was expected to be at extreme fire danger rating, with parts of the southern highlands, the south-west west coast, the south west inland, and the lower tablelands all at severe. Other parts of New South Wales such as the eastern New England, the Maitland district, the Hunter, and the north west and north east coasts of the state were expected to be at severe, and part of northern Victoria, the mid north coast, and Wodonga region were expected to be at extreme fire danger.