Australians are being urged to prepare for seven months of severe weather after the Bureau of Meteorology released a grim long-term forecast.
While severe weather can occur at any time of the year, the national weather agency has warned extreme conditions are most likely to occur between October and April.
The coming months will bring an increased risk of heatwaves and bushfires due to El Nino and positive Indian Ocean Dipole climate conditions.
The climate drivers typically result in lower rainfall and higher temperatures individually, and the phenomenon is strengthened when they occur together.
Senior meteorologist Sarah Scully said the forecast showed a high chance most of the country would experience unusually warm temperatures until at least February 2024.
“Daytime and night-time temperatures have an increased chance of being unusually warm for October to February,” she said.
“Warm nights after hot days means little relief from heat and can lead to heat stress.”
Much of eastern and southern Australia will also be at risk of increased bushfires due to high temperatures, reduced rainfall, and increased fuel load.
“There is always a risk of dangerous and destructive fires in Australia at this time of year,” Ms Scully noted.
“Grass growth due to above average rainfall in the past two to three years is contributing to an increased fire risk.“
The bushfire season started worryingly early this year, with 70 fires blazing throughout NSW in August.
In the intervening weeks, dangerous fires have been reported in every jurisdiction in Australia and several have forced emergency evacuations of large communities.
However, there is a silver lining for millions of Australians in the recent BOM forecast.
According to the Bureau, the El Nino and positive Indian Ocean Dipole events will result in an 80 per cent chance of fewer tropical cyclones.
“During El Nino, the number of tropical cyclones in the Australian region is often below average,” Ms Scully said.
However, BOM notes at least one tropical cyclone crosses Australian coasts every season.
The area most likely to be affected is the northwest coast between Broome and Exmouth in Western Australia.
Northern Queensland and the Top End of the Northern Territory also usually experience a high number of tropical cyclones.
Residents of those areas will receive some reprieve with the Bureau predicting that changing weather conditions will delay the start of the cyclone season.
“On average the first tropical cyclone crosses the Australian coast in late December,” Ms Scully said.
“This can be later in El Nino years – possibly early to mid-January.”
The Bureau predicts the start of the summer monsoon will also be delayed by a few weeks until early January.
There will be a normal risk of severe thunderstorms in late spring and early summer, according to the weather forecast.
Despite the drier-than-usual conditions, BOM warns heavy rainfall could still result in localised flash flooding or riverine flooding.
Preparation is key, according to the Bureau, which urges Australians to keep up to date with the latest weather warnings.
The extreme weather forecast comes on the heels of Australia’s hottest winter on record.
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