The warning signs are there. This summer could be a bad one for bushfires.
And in the longer-term we can expect more mega-fires like Black Saturday.
Are we prepared?
Victoria to get more large and intense bushfires
The Climate Commission’s report “Victorian climate impacts and opportunities” (July 23 2012) warns of our increased fire risk:
Conditions for large and intense bushfires are likely to become more common in the future. The number of ‘very high’ and ‘extreme’ fire danger days could increase significantly over the next few decades.
Many types of climate-related extreme events are expected to increase in frequency and intensity in the future. The heatwaves, drought and bushfires of the past decade provide Victorians with a window into that future.
Critical infrastructure, such as roads, railways and power lines, is vulnerable to prolonged exposure to high temperatures.
Above average fire activity for SE Australia
The national newspaper The Australian recently reported on the forecast for this summer. According to forecasters at the Weather Channel, after the wettest two-year period on record, Australia is set to have a hot and dry summer this year as the El Nino phenomenon takes hold in the central and eastern Pacific.
They say Australia could expect a spike in cyclones, a return to heatwaves and an increase in grass fires from October to April.
Summer forecast: dry and bushfire hot - The Australian, 19 Sep 2012
More Black Saturdays predicted
A 2009 report prepared by the Workplace Research Centre at the University of Sydney predicts that disasters like Black Saturday could become an annual occurrence in this country.
The WRC research was preliminary but terrifying.
It predicted a significant increase in the number of days of very high fire danger with the largest changes occurring in the interior of NSW and Northern Victoria. An area like Mildura could have up to 90 days a year – that’s three months – of extreme fire danger.