Early danger signs for another devastating summer

One of the houses destroyed by the Pappinbarra bushfires in February.

One of the houses destroyed by the Pappinbarra bushfires in February.

The bleak Bureau of Meteorology forecast for August and a low ground moisture content are likely to see an early start to the bushfire period.

Normally introduced in October, lower than average rainfall through July and predicted low falls in August will impact the NSW Rural Fire Service’s bushfire management committee’s decision, says acting district manager Mid Coast district Inspector Guy Duckworth.

“We are currently reviewing the forecast from the BOM and also ground moisture content across the district,” he confirmed.

“That information will go the committee with regards to a likely decision as to when the bushfire danger period will commence.

“We will review all that data. A decision is likely to be made by the end of the week.

“My gut feeling is that the bushfire danger period will be brought forward.”

Insp Duckworth said the RFS has already experienced a number of escaped private hazard reductions and pile burns.

“I just don’t think the general population fully appreciates or understands how dry it really is,” he added.

Other concerns include the minimal result from a forecast rain band on Thursday night.

Insp Duckworth said the RFS encouraged landowners to undertake hazard reduction burns but urged them to follow accepted practice.

I just don’t think the general population fully appreciates or understands how dry it really is. - RFS's Inspector Guy Duckworth

“Have water on-site and be aware of the forecast weather conditions,” he said. “Talk to your local rural fire services and follow all appropriate practices.

“Now is also an opportunity to review your bushfire survival plan, which you can download from the NSW RFS website.”

In February, Pappinbarra experienced a catastrophic bushfire event which saw homes, outbuildings, fencelines and stock damaged or destroyed.

Meteorologist with weatherzone Jacob Cronje confirmed the very dry conditions across the state.

“Some centres experienced 70 per cent below their long term average rainfall for July,” he said.

“Coupled with that, the daytime temperatures experienced across the state, and including the Mid-North Coast, was well above average.

“This is also the outlook we are expecting for August as well.”

Overall, he said, the average maximum temperature across the LGA was one to two degrees above the average for maximum average temperatures.

High pressure systems dominated the belt across the country which also kept the regions quite dry.

Port Macquarie’s average maximum temperature for July was 20.2 degrees which is 1.4 degrees above the average.

Mr Cronje said the dry spell would continue.

“Broadly speaking, we will see warmer days and cooler mornings,” he said.

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