Victorian authorities warn of increased flood risk this spring as dams reach capacity

Authorities predict flooding in parts of Victoria this spring as dams across the state reach capacity.

The predicted wet conditions mean that the risk of bushfires is lower than usual for spring.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Diana Eadie said the likelihood of wet weather was partly due to a 70% chance of La Niña developing this season, which she said would likely form in early to mid-spring .

“All indicators suggest we will see a wetter than average spring across much of the state, particularly northern and eastern Victoria,” she said.

Ms Eadie said the forecast wet conditions were due to the La Niña warning, with the Indian Ocean Dipole in negative and the southern annular mode in positive phase.

She said the office expects cooler-than-average temperatures statewide in September, before transitioning to nearer-average temperatures in October and November.

Victorian dams almost at capacity

Victoria SES chief executive Tim Wiebusch said Victoria’s dams were already at 90-100% capacity.

“Our watersheds in Victoria are already at saturation levels that we haven’t seen in some time, particularly in the central and eastern parts of the state,” he said.

He said if the bureau’s forecast of increased rainfall came true, flooding would likely occur.

“It really depends on how quickly the rain comes and how much flooding we will see,” he said.

The Victorian SES warns residents to prepare for flooding.(ABC Southwest: Matthew Neal)

He advised Victorians to download their area’s flood guide from the SES website.

Mr Wiebush also warned people not to drive through floodwaters, saying it only takes 15 centimeters of flooding to float a small vehicle.

Fire risk lower than usual this spring

Due to forecasts of heavy rainfall in Victoria this season, much of the state is less prone to bushfires.

Forest Fire Management Victoria fire chief Chris Hardman said people in arid parts of the state still needed to be prepared for the fires.

“We are unlikely to see large-scale bushfires in the east and northeast of the state, but that doesn’t mean bushfires won’t happen,” he said. declared.

The CFA fights a fast moving grass fire which is closing in on homes in Craigieburn on February 9, 2014
Arid parts of Victoria are still threatened by bushfires this spring.(PA: David Crosling)

“All Victoria needs is a few days of drier weather than expected and we can expect to see bushfires and grass fires.”

He said the usual seasonal firefighter workforce had been employed and was being trained.

A new fire danger rating system is being rolled out this week

A new fire danger rating system will be rolled out nationwide on September 1.

The new system will contain four warnings – moderate, high, extreme and catastrophic – compared to the previous six.

A new fire danger chart.
The new fire danger rating system has four levels of danger rating instead of six. (Provided: Country Fire Authority)

The nationally consistent system was a recommendation of the 2020 bushfire royal commission.

Country Fire Authority chief executive Jason Heffernan said the new system was created to simplify messaging about fire hazards.

“Communities weren’t quite sure what to do when they heard these different assessments,” he said.

The new system will use eight vegetation types, instead of two, to determine the degree of fire danger. These are forests, grasslands, grassy woodlands, shrubs, spinifex, button grass, and pines.

He said North West Victoria would be a priority for the deployment of the new signs, where the fire risk is higher.

“I anticipate those areas in the eastern parts of the state would be much slower in the traditional fire danger period,” he said.