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High grass, crop fuel loads lift summer bushfire risk

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Forecasts for significantly above average crop yields and delayed harvests in NSW suggest unusually high fuel loads will coincide with the peak of summer and create above normal risk for bushfires in large parts of the state.

AFAC, the National Council for Fire and Emergency Services, says while most of Australia shows normal bushfire potential this summer, areas of NSW and WA indicate above normal risk.

The latest climate outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology says summer is likely to bring warm summer days for much of the country, with warmer nights “very likely”.

There is an increased chance of unusually high maximum summer temperatures over most of WA, the NT, western and central Queensland, most of SA, and western parts of NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

Minimum temperatures are also likely to be warmer than median for most of Australia.

“There is an increased chance of unusually high minimum temperatures for December to February over most of Australia except south-east WA and north-east, with the highest likelihood for northern Australia,” BOM said.

At the same time, BOM forecasts a wetter than median summer, with rainfall likely to be above median for northern and eastern Queensland, eastern and central NSW, western Victoria, and eastern Tasmania.

The varied bushfire risk picture for locations across Australia comes after recent rainfall already boosted soil moisture and stream flows across the east of the country during La Nina conditions.

“In any season we could see periods of escalated fire danger and fires that require assistance from beyond the area from which they originate, especially if rainfall distribution through the period is not consistent,” AFAC’s Bushfire Seasonal Outlook Summer 2021 report said.

Click here for the full report.