Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane to be struck by three freak weather events
Australia is facing a terrifying triple threat of a super dry spring drought, sizzling summer heatwave – and huge tracts of the country being a lethal bushfire tinderbox.
The latest data from the Bureau of Meteorology has revealed the nation’s shocking dangers after an El Nino was declared on Tuesday.
A freak combination of weather events is set to plunge Australia into crisis this summer, with the entire country forecast to suffer extreme dry heat.
The conditions are set to be perfect for another possible Black Summer, just four years after devastating bushfires ravaged Australia in 2019 and 2020.
A massive swathe of coastline from Cairns to Sydney, potentially affecting around 10 million people and stretching 1000km inland, is on high bushfire alert this spring.
Victoria’s rural south-east and far north-west, stretching into South Australia, have also been pinpointed as danger areas by the Australasian Fire Authorities Council.
A massive area in Australia’s red centre is also at high risk of out-of-control blazes, stretching across almost the whole of the central Northern Territory.
The Nullarbor Wilderness Protection area on the South Australia-Western Australia border has also been highlighted as being at high risk from wildfires.
The danger zones are set to be fuelled by overgrown parched bush undergrowth and grasslands, which flourished in the wet La Nina conditions of the last couple of years.
But they have now died back and dried out – and a looming super dry spring is set to make the arid tinder even more flammable.
Ex-fire chief Greg Mullins has warned of ‘powderkeg’ conditions just waiting to spark into life with devastating consequences.
‘Excessive rainfall in recent years has caused prolific vegetation growth in Australia, which is now drying and turning into fire fuel as we experience hotter, drier conditions,’ said Mr Mullins, former Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW and founder of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action.
‘Grass fires can be as deadly and destructive as forest fires. They are very fast-moving.
‘People who have been caught up in these types of fires in the past have been unable to outrun them and have sadly died.’
‘Summer will almost certainly see a return to bushfire conditions across most of Australia, with major fires in the NSW Blue Mountains and even the suburbs of Sydney.
‘All levels of government need to understand the escalating risk of devastating fires and ramp up preparedness.’
The warning comes as the Bureau of Meteorology confirmed on Tuesday that they have detected a positive Indian Ocean Dipole event which is set to starve the country of rainfall this spring.
That will also be compounded by a negative Southern Annular Mode event which will also keep the rainclouds at bay over eastern Victoria and NSW.
The two weather events will combine with the now-confirmed El Nino which will send the mercury soaring, with almost the entire country 80 per cent certain of above average maximum temperatures.
Even minimum temperatures are 80 per cent likely to be higher than average across the whole country as the nation is gripped by the El Nino scorcher.
Just one tiny sliver of tropical north Queensland is set to escape the worst of the predicted heatwave – but temperatures around Cooktown and Cairns are still 60-75 per cent likely to be above average.
The summer furnace is set to stretch into 2024 with no respite in sight except for two pockets around Mt Isa in Queensland and near Ngukurr in the Northern Territory’s north-east.
The weather warnings come after the northern hemisphere has seen a series of devastating natural disasters and heatwaves this year.
Wildfires have wreaked havoc in Canada, Hawaii and Greece, coupled with cataclysmic floods in Europe and North Africa.
Now the nation’s fire chiefs are warning Australia to brace itself for the coming bushfire season.
‘The climate influences driving increased risk of bushfire this season are widespread,’ warned Rob Webb, CEO of AFAC, the National Council for Fire and Emergency Services.
‘We don’t need reminders given what’s happened with the northern hemisphere fires, whether it be Greece or Canada, where we’ve had 700 Australian firefighters and other specialists.
‘Almost the entire country can expect drier and warmer conditions than normal this spring. It doesn’t need to be a black summer to be dangerous.
‘It is important for Australians be alert to local risks of bushfire over the coming months, regardless of their location.’