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Season's first fire bans issued in NSW

Ben Domensino, Wed 13 Sep 2017

The first total fire bans of the season for NSW are in effect today as warm and dry winds fan parched vegetation across the state.

Today's fire bans affect the Greater Hunter, North Coast, North Western and Greater Sydney fire weather areas, where temperatures are predicted to climb above 30 degrees for the first time this season in some centres.

Sydney's forecast top of 32 degrees is 12 above average and would make this the city's warmest day since February and the warmest September day in three years.

While it's been months since restrictions have been placed on lightning fires in NSW, this week's bans did not come without warning.

The bushfire seasonal outlook released last week by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNH CRC) stated that there is an above average potential for bushfires in eastern NSW during the coming months.

This outlook stems from the state's driest winter in 15 years and the third warmest winter on record based on maximum temperature.

On top of last season's dry and warm weather - which increased bushfire fuel loads in many areas - there is also an expectation of above-average temperatures for most of the state during spring.

One of the less certain aspects of the current season though is how much rain will fall.

Australia's two main climate drivers - the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) - are currently in neutral phases and will most likely remain this way throughout spring. This makes it difficult to predict rainfall.

A common misconception in the absence of these two climate drivers is that the weather will revert to an average state.

In reality, more localised influences such as sea surface temperatures close to our continent and the position of the subtropical ridge (a belt of high pressure that drifts north and south over Australia) will have a more discernible influence on the state's rainfall distribution during the months ahead.

As the saying goes, climate is what you expect and weather is what you get.

Today's heightened fire danger ratings are a good reminder to go over your bushfire survival plan and if you haven't done so already, prepare your home and property.

A guide to making a bushfire survival plan is available at: https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/bush-fire-survival-plan
Tips on preparing your home for the bushfire season are available here: https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/prepare-your-property


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