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Queensland fire risks rise as rains awaited

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Queensland faces above-normal fire potential this spring in some areas if expected rainfall fails to alleviate dry conditions, the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre says.

Major climate drivers are favouring a wetter than normal spring across most of the state, which would ease fire potential compared to the previous two seasons, but southeast Queensland has experienced significantly below-average rainfall over the past 12-24 months.

“If widespread rain does not eventuate, above-normal bushfire potential in forested areas in southeast Queensland and some central coast areas extending north is likely,” the centre warns in its September-November seasonal bushfire outlook.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued an alert for a La Nina event, typically associated with wetter weather over much of eastern and northern Australia.

Half the climate models surveyed by the bureau also indicate a negative Indian Ocean Dipole, which increases the likelihood of rainy weather.

Co-operative Research Centre CEO Richard Thornton says the rainfall outlook is good news in the short-term for bushfire risk but could increase the threat in summer.

“While these wetter conditions in eastern Australia will help for spring, they may lead to an increase in the risk of fast-running fires in grasslands and cropping areas over summer,” he said. “These conditions will be monitored closely over coming months.”

In WA dry conditions are persisting, with above-normal fire potential continuing to be expected in parts of the state’s north.