29 August 2019

Heatwave warning as spring set to have sting in tail

| Ian Bushnell
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A drier and warmer spring could also see heatwaves heading into summer. File photo.

Forecasters have put the ACT on notice, warning of continuing dry conditions and the chance of heat waves fueling the potential for dangerous fire scenarios as summer approaches.

The Bureau of Meteorology released its 2019 Spring Outlook on Thursday and the news is not good for areas like the ACT which have had little winter rainfall.

Bureau head of long-range forecasting Dr Andrew Watkins said there was a 70-80 per cent chance of being drier than average and that the fire potential was high around the ACT.

He said there was an 80 per cent chance of daytime temperatures being warmer than average with the possibility of heatwaves going into summer.

Although early in the season, nights could be cooler than average with the chance of frosts.

Dr Watkins said the ACT was being affected by the positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which means there are cooler than average waters between Australia and Indonesia.

“This generally means less cloud than normal forms to the north-west of Australia, resulting in less rainfall and higher than average temperatures over central and south-eastern Australia during winter and spring,” he said.

“El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the other main driver, remains neutral, meaning it’s having little influence over Australia’s climate right now.”

So the ACT would certainly be warmer, drier and the rivers would remain low around Canberra.

The Bureau said the warm and dry outlook for the spring season follows warmer than average winter days in the ACT and one of the driest winters on record for large parts of the country.

In the ACT, daytime temperatures were very much above average and rainfall was very much below average.

Dr Watkins said the coming three months were unlikely to deliver significant widespread rainfall for the country.

“Unfortunately, the outlook is not indicating an easing of conditions in drought areas,” Dr Watkins said.

“But a drier than average outlook is not an outlook for no rain at all. Significant rainfall events are always possible, so it’s important to keep a close eye on the seven-day forecast.

“Winter was wet in parts of southern Victoria and western Tasmania, as well as central Queensland, but for most areas experiencing long-term rainfall deficiencies there was little relief.”


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