Australia’s fire- and drought-ravaged east will continue to suffer hot and dry conditions this summer, increasing the chances of severe weather events.
The Bureau of Meteorology warned the country could expect more heatwaves and little rain in the east during the summer, following one of the driest springs ever.
‘We’ve already seen significant bushfire activity during spring, and the outlook for drier and warmer than average conditions will maintain that heightened risk over the coming months,’ said the bureau’s head of long-range forecasts, Andrew Watkins.
The hot, dry spring led to an early start to Australia’s bushfire season, which has led to loss of life and the destruction of more than 500 homes since September.
The dry spring and weak outlook for summer rains in the east were due mainly to warmer than average waters in the Indian Ocean off Africa, combined with cooler than normal waters off Indonesia.
There will be no relief for Australia’s largest and most lucrative crop, wheat, facing the worst damage in the third straight year of drought.
Australia’s shaky power grid has suffered blackouts over the past two summers as ageing coal-fired plants crashed in the heat, just as power demand for air conditioners soared.