Bushfire threat increases with departure of La Nina system
AS the LA Nina weather system moves away from Australia, taking flood risks with it, the nation now faces an increased bushfire threat.
Bureau of Meterology severe weather national manager John Bally explained that two summers of above-average rainfall had created much grass growth and, teamed with a recent dry spring, had created fuel for fires.
"...with all those fuel loads and now average or perhaps below average rainfall, we're expecting a more severe than average fire season, particularly in areas that have heavy loads of grassland fuels and that's across much of the country," he told media in Melbourne on Monday.
The prediction comes amid sweltering temperatures and gusty winds in Western Australia, prompting severe fire danger warnings in parts of the state.
BOM also predicts Australians will see more thunderstorms this summer than in previous years.
"With a more normal weather pattern this year, we expect to go back to the normal sort of risks from severe thunderstorms that we have and more normal numbers which is higher numbers than we've had for the last two years," Mr Bally said.
"So, we're looking at increased chances compared to the last two years of having a large hail-producing thunderstorms and thunderstorms that produce damaging wind gusts and we've seen that playing out over the last month or so, particularly in eastern Australia."
Federal Attorney-General and Emergency Management Minister Nicola Roxon urged families to keep one eye on the weather this summer.
"While disasters can be unpredictable, we can all be better prepared," Ms Roxon said.
"Whether you're heading out-of-town or staying at home, keeping an eye on the weather forecast is just one of the steps your family should take this summer.
"The bureau's website, your local ABC radio station and the new DisasterWatch phone app are just some of the ways you can stay informed."