Worse than average bushfire season predicted for 2016-17

Worse than average bushfire season predicted for 2016-17

The Bushfires and Natural Hazards CRC (BNHCRC) has released its seasonal outlook for the 2016 Bushfire season, predicting an above average risk of bushfires across much of Victoria and NSW, along with parts of WA and Queensland.

Despite high levels of rainfall over winter and predicted for spring, warmer than usual temperatures mean the risk of bushfire remains high across much of Australia.

Dr Bruce Buckley, Principal Climate Research Analyst at IAG, further warns that while the BNHCRC provides an outlook until December 2016, the worst bush fire conditions for Victoria, SA, Tasmania and the more populated parts of WA will likely occur between January and April next year.

Whilst the good news is that a wet winter and spring may lead to a delayed start to the 2016 fire season, unfortunately the increased rainfall will also lead to increased vegetation growth. This has the potential to provide more fuel for bushfires, and creates challenges in conducting planned fuel management burning in fire prone areas.

“The ongoing above normal rainfall across inland Queensland, NSW west of the ranges, much of Victoria (excluding Gippsland), and the south and east of SA is expected to continue through October, which means these regions are likely to have a significantly delayed onset of the bushfire season, potentially delaying the start of the season to December.”

“However, once the vegetation has dried out, the heavy fuel load will set up the second half of the season for periods of potentially extreme fire weather as the summer and autumn of 2017 are still expected to be hotter than normal away from the southern coastline of Australia,” Dr Buckley explains.

Dr Buckley also warned that residents in the west coast of WA might see an earlier onset of the bushfire season than those in the eastern states, due to a combination of hotter and drier conditions.

Ensure you are prepared

 Now is the time to review your insurance cover and make sure your property and business are insured for the right value.  CGU’s home and contents calculators can help you estimate the replacement cost for your property, and bear in mind that new regulations in bushfire prone areas may add to the cost to rebuild your property.

If your business or farm is in one of the areas highlighted as high risk, now is a great time to speak to your insurance broker and reconfirm that you have the right cover in place.

Check that you have a bushfire plan in place, and you and any employees know what to do in an emergency situation.

Finally, if you own a property in a bushfire prone area, take time to prepare your property for the upcoming fire season.  Simple actions like clearing debris, checking your fire / sprinkler systems and pumps, and backing up business critical data and documentation can make a huge difference in how your business is impacted by fire.

For more information about preparing for bushfires and other natural disasters, visit the Preparing for Natural Disasters section of cgu.com.au.