MAP: The are now high risk bushfire zones threatening most of Australia's population

A fire near Mount Victoria in the Blue Mountains in 2013. Picture: William West/ AFP/ Getty Images
  • Warm weather and low rainfall has increased the risk of bushfires this summer.
  • Nearly all of NSW is in drought, with 21% in intense drought, 49% in drought, and 30% listed as drought affected.
  • The Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook shows fire potential across New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, southern Western Australia and Queensland.

Severe bushfires are coming, according to the latest threat assessment for Australia.

Much of southern Australia is experiencing a combination of above average temperatures and below average rainfall.

This means large parts of the country face above normal bushfire threats over the coming months.

The Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook, released by the Bushfire and Natural Hazard Cooperative Research Centre, is used by fire authorities to plan ahead for the upcoming fire season.

The outlook for 2018 shows fire potential across New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, southern Western Australia and Queensland.

The warmer and drier than average weather, combined with forecasts for spring, suggest the fire season is likely to start earlier than usual and be more active than normal.

This map shows the bushfire outlook for southern Australia through to the end of 2018:

Source: Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook 2018

This map has been combined with the outlook for the northern Australia bushfire season, released in July, to show the areas of fire potential for all of Australia.

The focus of dry conditions has been New South Wales, where almost the entire state has had very low rainfall.

The Murray Darling Basin recorded the driest January-July in more than 50 years.

At the end of August, the Department of Primary Industries mapped NSW, showing 21% of the state in intense drought, 49% in drought, and 30% as drought affected.

Most of northern and eastern Victoria, parts of southern and central Queensland and eastern South Australia also have had little rain.

“While August has seen some rainfall in drought affected inland areas, this has fallen well short of that required to remove the longer term deficiencies which remain extensive,” says the outlook report.

“Dry and warm weather has seen poor vegetation growth for most of southern Australia.

“The general landscape dryness means that warm, windy conditions are likely to see elevated fire risk, and make an early start to the fire weather season likely.

“Countering this risk, the poor growth of grass and annual plants means that vegetation loads are reduced in drought affected areas.”

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