Drier and warmer winter predicted for much of WA

Email Shannon Verhagen

WA’s record summer and autumn rainfall is set to slow, with much of the State’s agricultural and horticultural estate anticipated to receive average falls and warmer temperatures come winter.

It comes after one of the wettest and best starts to the State’s grain growing season in years, with many growers seeding into moisture for the first time since 2017.

The Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre’s latest Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for June to August 2021 published today predicts some areas of the State are likely to have a drier than average winter.

It is also predicted to be a warmer winter than usual in the South West, with the Bureau of Meteorology today forecasting “above average” temperatures for northern, south-western, and south-eastern Australia. Central WA however, is likely to be cooler than average.

The outlooks come just days after the south of the State shivered through it’s coldest mornings of the year and snow dusted the 1088mm peak of Bluff Knoll.

And WA’s outlook is in stark contrast to the rest of the country, which is anticipated to see above average winter falls.

The wet start to the year has overjoyed many farmers, delivering above average root zone soil moisture in a number of areas, including the Warren-Blackwood, parts of the Avon Wheatbelt, Mallee and Esperance.

According to the bushfire outlook, the moisture levels are “alleviating stress in live woody vegetation and providing good conditions for planned burning activities”.

“However, with average rainfall predicted for early winter, fire potential in these areas is also expected to be normal,” it read.

Federal Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said despite the wet start to the year, now was “not the time to take the foot off the brake” in being bushfire ready.

“Western Australia has already experienced its fair share of disasters this year and above average rainfall,” he said. “The outlook predicts normal fire potential for northern regions of the state.”

“We urge all Australians to keep in mind that normal risk does not mean there is no risk, and everyone has a role to play when it comes to bushfire preparedness.

“Think about your evacuation plans now and how you can prepare your property before the next bushfire season rolls around.

“Small steps can go a long way to protecting your home and we can all use the winter months to our advantage by making sure that grass is trimmed and gutters are cleared.”

He said winter prescribed burns were an “important tool” for land managers and fire agencies to reduce bushfire risk.

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