Above average temperatures and the highest level of risk in 40 years:
Expected to reach 34DegC here today
Southerly change on its way John,through Byron Bay now…but very dry and windy so not a help necessarily.
I don’t know what to make of the ‘new normal’ suggestion. There is a lot of volatility inherent in the eastern Australian set-up at the best of times. More people than ever are living close to bushland up and down the coast. And the country’s infested with a possibly increasing number of idiot arsonists.
We’ve had a double La Nina that has delivered rain up and down the east coast for two years. Massive vegetation growth has followed,and opportunities to hazard reduce have been crimped by above average number of wet days.. Perhaps veg mass per hectare enhanced a bit by high CO2 levels as well,that may be a ‘new normal’ aspect.
We now have had almost three months of below average rainfall northwards from Sydney,during a period that is naturally the driest of the year. Early in the period,winter,it was not a problem because there was residual moisture, winds were modest,lack of cloud produced cooler than average nights. Now,after spring with many places having no rain at all for 30-40 days we are in a full-on dessication mode,and temps are above average and the season has entered its windy phase. The most dangerous time for fire on the north coast is spring/early summer before the monsoonal influence increases chance of rainfall. Many places in the Macleay,Clarence and Richmond have had less than 20% of their already low seasonal means. But this is not unprecedented in short or long terms in the local record. Even comparing this springs stats with similar ENSO neutral periods might not show anything fingerprintable to ‘new normal’
There are a number of fires burning. They are all arson or accidental farm haz reduction escape. Or ill-starred RFS/NPWS burn-offs,though the pressure to get these done is understandable. The valleys have experienced a resettlement of hobbyists and lifestyle changers since the 1970s and 1980s to the point where a lot of new infrastructure and lives are in harms way. Multiple occupancies are now common.
There may be new normal climate in the mix. But the input of ‘more in harms way’ is huge.
Some further info for what may lie ahead,from The Long Paddock:
The season so far and analogous periods and probabilities
15,000 hectares of the Clarence burnt in the past two weeks,some still alight, and a 15,000 hectare fire is out of control between the Macleay River valley and Carrai Plateau. Biggest fire season for quite a while for these valleys. Many fires were escaped burn-offs. Why were permits issued at all?
I notice,according to RFS report, a fire has just popped up on the Clarence Way near Tabulam. That would be arson,as there is no lightning today. Fires just don’t spontaneously start next to roads,or anywhere for that matter. Temps have been high thirties to low forties,humidity barely over 10%. To the idiot firelighter: I hope the law catches up with you,scumbag.
good points nick
Are we yet at a new normal?
No doubting the signal overwhelming the noise up there.
[…] 2012/10/05: WtD: The New Normal (Part 23): The worst NSW bushfire season in 40 years imminent? […]
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