Authorities release bushfire forecast for spring 2022

Fire authorities expect bushfire activity across much of Australia to be consistent with annual spring levels.

Spring bushfire outlook and map released at the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authority (AFAC) annual conference today shows parts of the east coast may have reduced fire potential in spring, while central and northwestern Australia are at increased risk.

The rest of the nation is maintaining ‘normal’ fire potential – meaning the chance of bushfires occurring across much of the country is in line with typical expectations for this time of year.

But while the likelihood of a La Niña event bringing cooler and wetter spring conditions has factored into the “below normal” bushfire outlook for parts of the east coast, the status of the area could quickly change if above average rainfall does not occur.

Even with a “below normal” risk rating, bushfires can still erupt where fuel and hazardous conditions permit, particularly if recent rainfall has caused increased vegetation loads.

Australian bushfire seasonal outlook map for spring 2022 / Credit: AFAC

Bushfire outlook indicates high fuel loads still pose risk in eastern Australia

Although parts of the east coast are likely to experience below normal fire conditions in the spring, these projections could change if the forecasted above average rainfall does not occur.

The outlook notes that an absence of above-average rainfall would restore these regions to “normal” status.

“There are likely to be periods of high fire danger across the grasslands and crop areas of NSW, particularly in the North West and South West,” the outlook says.

“Seasonal conditions in Victoria were favorable for the start of the 2022-23 winter cropping season, which could lead to additional grass and crop fuel growth in most areas in the spring. This can lead to increased fire potential later in the spring as drying progresses.

“If the expected above average rainfall is not received, we expect to see normal fire potential for grasslands in the ACT in the spring.”

Highest risk for parts of WA and NT

AFAC rated parts of the north higher than normal Western Australia and the southern regions of North territory (Central Australia).

WA bushfire season is underway in northern parts of the state with heavy vegetation in Dampierland, Central Kimberley, Old Victoria Plain, Great Sand Desert, South Pilbara and Gascoyne. Spring is also a high risk time for regions in the northern savanna regions of the Northern Territories.

The NT is expected to experience conditions conducive to an increased fire hazard in September, but increased precipitation in early spring may offset this.

While most of central Australia will have a normal rating, areas around Alice Springs are at higher risk in the spring, including parts of the Macdonnell Ranges, Burt Plain and Finke Ranges bioregions.

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“Normal” situation for most of Australia

All of Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, as well as the majority of New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory are considered to have normal fire potential for the spring.

Climatic influences like a third La Niña event and a negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) could push the start of the fire season back into late spring.

But South Australians are encouraged to “prepare their plans and properties” in case the increased rainfall does not occur in the spring. It is a similar situation for Has been southern areas, which could see their fire season advanced if the current rainfall deficits continue.

The time of the Tasmanian the fire danger season will be determined by whether or not the island’s dry winter conditions continue, with AFAC noting that late winter rains “will be important in determining the timing of the spring fire season.” .