Daunting map reveals imminent danger for millions of Aussies

Communities are urged to be aware of the danger and ensure they're 'primed to take action'.

With spring just days away, millions of Aussies have been issued a dire warning from the nation's fire council, advising of the incoming bushfire danger and urging communities to ensure they are "primed to take action".

According to the Australasian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC), what's in store for spring isn't looking good for residents in multiple jurisdictions, but specifically those in the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and parts of Victoria.

AFAC said those regions can expect an above average risk of bushfires throughout the next three months and that's due to three main driving forces.

A map showing the spring bushfire outlook for Australia with the danger highlighted in red.
Millions living in the red zones have been warned to expect dangerous bushfire conditions in the coming months. Souce: AFAC.

The three factors spelling danger for Australia

The first being that after three years of back-to-back La Niña events, vegetation across the country has flourished. And although that's a win for the environment, it could prove dangerous on those hot, dry days.

Secondly, following the largely rainless, warmer-than-average winter that most of the nation just experienced, all of the fresh vegetation that's just blossomed has become dry — making it practically kindling for bushfires.

The third driving factor is the developing positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and potential El Niño — though the latter has yet to be formally announced. Both of these climate drivers, AFAC says, increases the likelihood the second half of 2023 will be significantly warmer and drier than average.

"The seasonal outlook identifies areas of increased risk of bushfire so communities are aware and primed to take appropriate action," AFAC said in their official spring outlook.

"It is not intended as a prediction of where and when bushfires will occur. Fire risk can vary greatly, even at the smaller scale, between bordering states and territories."

A firefighter stands in front of bushfire.
A dry winter with less than average rainfall has contributed to the dangerous conditions. Source: Getty.

El Nino looms, putting farmers on edge

Meanwhile, millions of famers remain on edge as meteorologists maintain an El Nino event remains likely for Australia. But, the weather bureau has so far stopped short of declaring it.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) released its latest climate driver update this month, stating an El Nino development is "considered likely" in the coming weeks, though the forecast will remain at an alert stage until the next update.

"When we go to an alert historically, an El Nino event does develop about 70 per cent of the time," the bureau's national climate services manager Karl Braganza said.

An El Nino event increases the risk of drought, heatwaves and bushfires. Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean are exceeding the thresholds needed for an El Nino event, but the atmosphere patterns are pointing toward more neutral conditions.

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