86mm less rainfall than previous September sparks fire fears

PREPARATIONS: Fire fighters are urging community members and residents to get ready for the coming fire season sooner rather than later. Picture: Lachlan Bence

PREPARATIONS: Fire fighters are urging community members and residents to get ready for the coming fire season sooner rather than later. Picture: Lachlan Bence

A much drier than average September is raising concerns for the coming fire season.

With just two days to go in September, Stawell’s rainfall total is only 31mm, down on the 43.6mm monthly average.

This month’s rainfall total also does not come anywhere near last year’s September figure, which saw 117mm of rain drench the town and its surrounds. 

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said earlier this month that the severity of the fire season would depend on a number of factors, including the amount, location and timing of rain in the months leading up to summer.

“The level of risk in the October to December period will still depend on how much spring rain there is in September,” he said.

“The early forecast shows there is underlying dryness in some areas of the state, particularly across central parts of Victoria and across the east.

“While there is a lot of surface water, which means there will be grass growth and a healthy supply of water for crop growing, ground moisture has the potential to dry out quickly under dry and warm conditions.”

The early bushfire season has already flared in Victoria with four blazes over the weekend in East Gippsland including Buchan, Dargo and the most severe fire at Marlo which saw campers and residents evacuated.

But the Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook found the highest risk this summer will be across central and western Victoria in both grass and bush areas. The urban interface areas are a particular threat.

Mr Lapsley is one of the keynote speakers at the Living with Bushfire Community Conference, to be hosted at FedUni on October 6 and 7. Other speakers on the program include the Bureau of Meteorology’s James Pescott on the coming fire season outlook, the CFA’s Brett Boatman to discuss expectations of the community when fires happen, and Scotsburn residents who will talk about their experiences during and after the Scotsburn bushfire.

The conference will bring together residents and communities, land and fire managers, emergency agencies, researchers and educators to gain valuable insight and practical knowledge in living with the threat of bushfire, and increase community preparedness for the upcoming fire season.

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