El Nino is three times more likely this spring, Bureau of Meteorology forecaster says | Video

Image: BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY
Image: BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY

CHIFLEY firefighters are prepared and ready if an El Nino weather pattern is declared by the Bureau of Meteorology.

Earlier this week, the Bureau of Meteorology revised its ENSO Outlook to ‘El Nino Alert’ and said the chance of it forming this spring was now three times the normal risk.

Bureau manager of long-range forecasting Dr Andrew Watkins said recent weather patterns indicate the early stages of this weather event could be underway.

If this condition was to occur, he said the chances of drought-affected areas in eastern Australia making a recovery over the coming months would be lowered.

“Like everyone in the Australian community, the Bureau of Meteorology is hoping regions being affected by drought will recover soon,” Dr Watkins said.

“However, if an El Nino were to occur, we’re more likely to see drier and warmer than average conditions.”

NSW Rural Fire Service Chifley/Lithgow Team operational officer Brett Taylor said the warmer, drier conditions during an El Nino mean that any fire that does occur will be more intense.

While the 38.6 millimetres of rain received so far this month in Bathurst is good for farmers, it provides a concern for firefighters.

“The downside of the rain we’ve had is that we’ll see grass growth,” he said.

Mr Taylor said grass fires around the Chifley/Lithgow zone were not the only concern for firefighters.

“Forested areas will be our biggest concern, the forests are just so dry,” he said.

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“Trees have been dropping their leaves.”

Mr Taylor said the extremely low level of water in dams right across the region will also hamper firefighting efforts should a blaze occur.

“Dams are so low that our trucks will have to go further away and our helicopters will have to go further away to get water and it will reduce their effectiveness,” he said.

Mr Taylor said a dry, long summer was “almost the norm” these days and crews had pre-incident pans in place for this bushfire danger period.

NSW Farmers Association Bathurst branch president and cattle grazier David McKay said at this stage he was not too worried about the El Nino alert being issued.

Good rainfall so far this month in Bathurst had boosted and led to some grass growth in paddocks.

Dams are so low that our trucks will have to go further away and our helicopters will have to go further away to get water and it will reduce their effectiveness.

NSW Rural Fire Service Chifley/Lithgow Team operational officer Brett Taylor

“We’ve had a couple of inches of growth [in the paddocks], but if it stops raining I’ll put them [his cattle] back on the oats,” he said. “It’s not really thick, but it’s there.”

Bushfire danger period in the Chifley/Lithgow zone runs until March 31, 2019.