Australia braces for peak of severe weather

09 Oct 2023 03:39pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX

SYDNEY - Australia is expected to face a peak season of severe weather, including heatwaves and tropical cyclones, Xinhua quoted the Australian Bureau of Meteorology report on Monday.

In its latest 2023-24 Severe Weather Long-Range Forecast, the bureau stressed that while severe weather can occur at any time of the year, the October to April period is the peak time for heatwaves, bushfires, tropical cyclones, thunderstorms and floods.

In the months ahead, Australia is likely to confront a high chance of "unusually high" temperatures until at least February 2024, also with an increased risk of bushfires in much of eastern and southern Australia.

"There is always a risk of dangerous and destructive fires in Australia at this time of the year. Grass growth due to above-average rainfall in the past two to three years is contributing to an increased fire risk," said the bureau's senior meteorologist, Sarah Scully.

On Sept 19, the bureau declared an El Nino event ongoing in the Pacific Ocean, which can typically shift rainfall away from Australia. Meanwhile, a positive Indian Ocean Dipole event is also underway, bringing warmer- and drier-than-average conditions in early spring and summer.

The bureau estimated an 80 per cent chance of fewer than average tropical cyclones this season.

"On average, the first tropical cyclone crosses the Australian coast in late December. This can be later in El Nino years, possibly early to mid-January," said Scully.

Besides, the meteorologist noted that severe thunderstorms are more common during the warmer months, particularly in northern New South Wales, southern Queensland, inland Western Australia and across the tropical north.

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"Thunderstorm asthma can be triggered by thunderstorms after high grass growth in southern Australia from October to December when pollen levels are highest," she added.

Despite the long-range forecast for warmer and drier conditions, the bureau warned that there is still a risk of riverine and flash floods where storms bring heavy rainfall. - BERNAMA-XINHUA