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Yes we had a couple of cold days but…still Record temperatures!

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Yes we had a couple of cold days but…still Record temperatures!

Did you know that overall last year was Australia’s warmest on record? Are we about to pay the price for it?

The Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) has published its outlook for the coming fire season. It shows “above normal” danger for large parts of our country.

Much of the east coast, from mid-Queensland to Victoria, is marked in red.

This is a consequence of last year’s very high and prolonged temperatures, which have continued into this year in many areas.

There also has not been as much rainfall in the east and southwest Australia over the past two years.

What this means is more moisture is sucked up from the environment causing more dryness in the forests and grasslands.

Combine the predicted El Nino conditions in the Pacific, and an early and severe fire season is the likely outcome for many parts of the country.

It does take a great deal of rain for the underlying dry conditions to change as any surface moisture will be quickly dispersed.

There has been a prolonged rainfall deficit in forested regions on the west and east coasts. This will lead to a much higher likelihood of bad fires in the forested regions.

And it is not only the areas with above-normal risk that could suffer.

Australia can expect severe fire seasons to become the new normal as the country starts to feel the heat of climate change.

Bushfire seasons will start earlier and last longer, with benign years becoming the exception.

Historical long-term averages are surpassed by fire seasons that are regularly above average in either duration, area burnt or in the total number of fires. Costs to the community for damage and the costs of fire-fighting are already steadily rising.

Communities in bushfire-prone areas, including those living on the fringe of capital cities and large rural centres need to prepare for the fire season now.

The Insurance Council of Australia says this season’s outlook should send a strong warning to communities. It says bushfires have caused billions of dollars of damage and insurance losses of more than $1.5 billion over the past decade.

2013’s October fires in the Blue Mountains destroyed more than 200 homes and resulted in claims costing $183.4 million.

Last changed: Sep 10 2014 at 8:27 PM

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