More bush­fires pre­dicted in year ahead

Sunday Tasmanian - - NEWS - HELEN KEMPTON

MORE bush­fires are on the hori­zon for Tas­ma­nia as the state braces for a hot­ter and drier year in the next 12 months.

Sky News Weather says the con­di­tions will mean bush­fires are more likely in the state’s al­ready-thirsty East Coast.

But in its an­nual severe weather out­look, it says the chances of severe, dam­ag­ing thun­der­storms in the state’s cap­i­tal will be less.

The fore­cast said Aus­tralia had en­tered the severe weather season in un­charted ter­ri­tory be­cause of an un­prece­dented drought crip­pling the east of the con­ti­nent.

“While Tas­ma­nia has largely es­caped the crip­pling drought con­di­tions, it will be hot­ter and drier go­ing for­ward into sum­mer. The state’s East Coast is al­ready dry with Swansea re­ceiv­ing only 287mm of rain since Jan­uary 1 — just about half of the 483mm it usu­ally re­ceives,” Sky News Weather’s chief me­te­o­rol­o­gist Tom Saun­ders said.

The out­look for 2018-19 shows the Bush­fire and Nat­u­ral Haz­ards Co-op­er­a­tive Re­search Cen­tre had pre­dicted above-av­er­age fire po­ten­tial through most forested re­gions of Aus­tralia.

The cen­tre says Tas­ma­nia’s fire season will start nor­mally but things will then heat up in the east.

“The western half of the state is very wet, and only the strip be­tween Or­ford and St He­lens on the East Coast is drier than av­er­age. This dry strip has above nor­mal fire po­ten­tial and the af­fected area may ex­pand with­out sig­nif­i­cant rain in the com­ing months,” the cen­tre’s re­port said.

“As in re­cent years, in­creased fire ac­tiv­ity will prob­a­bly oc­cur in this dry strip be­fore De­cem­ber and will re­quire con­sid­er­able re­sponse ef­forts.”

Last month TFS chief of­fi­cer Chris Arnol said the strip of the East Coast be­tween Tri­abunna and lara­puna/Ed­dy­s­tone Point was drier than av­er­age and fires were likely to start in this area ear­lier in the season than the rest of the state.

“Last year we had some early bush­fire ac­tiv­ity on the East Coast, and this year we are ex­pect­ing sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances be­cause the East Coast is again drier than av­er­age due to a lack of win­ter rain­fall,” Mr Arnol said.

“On av­er­age Tas­ma­nia ex­pe­ri­ences 1400 bush­fires each sum­mer all over the state. There is no es­cap­ing the fact that we live in a bush­fire prone state and a ‘nor­mal’ out­look means we will have bush­fires. What’s im­por­tant is that we use the in­for­ma­tion re­leased by the Bush­fire and Nat­u­ral Haz­ards Co­op­er­a­tive Re­search Cen­tre as a trig­ger point for bush­fire plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion.”

A fuel re­duc­tion burn is un­der way near St He­lens with Sus­tain­able Tim­ber Tas­ma­nia fo­cus­ing on a 1300ha area about 8km west of the town­ship.

Sky News Weather says Ho­bart will have a hot and dry sum­mer.

Ho­bart’s long-term av­er­age rain­fall is 356.9mm a year. Last year the city re­ceived 306.8mm and this year is fore­cast to be drier again.

The Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy is also fore­cast­ing a drier than av­er­age end to 2018 in Tas­ma­nia.

Sky News Weather said ev­ery Aus­tralian cap­i­tal has recorded at least six con­sec­u­tive years with above av­er­age max­i­mum tem­per­a­tures dur­ing the severe weather season.

On av­er­age Tas­ma­nia ex­pe­ri­ences 1400 bush­fires each sum­mer all over the state. There is no es­cap­ing the fact that we live in a bush­fire prone state


AD­VICE: Me­te­o­rol­o­gist Tom Saun­ders.

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