Australia's meteorological office predicted that the east of the country ravaged by fire and drought will experience hot and dry conditions this summer, increasing the chances of severe weather events.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) warned that the country could expect more heat waves and little rain in the east during the summer, which runs from December to February, after one of the driest seasons in history.
"We have already seen significant wildfire activity during the spring, and the outlook for drier and warmer than average conditions will keep that increased risk in the coming months," the office's head of long-range forecasting said in a statement. , Dr. Andrew Watkins in dialogue with Reuters.
The BoM warned that communities must prepare for a more severe fire hazard.
The hot and dry spring led to an early start to Australia's wildfire season, with six people killed and more than 600 homes destroyed since September. Fire officials have warned that there are worse things to come.
The forecast offered no relief to Australia's devastated agricultural sector, with the country's largest and most lucrative crop, wheat, facing the worst damage in the third consecutive year of drought.
Watkins said there was an 80 percent chance of warmer-than-usual days and nights across much of the country during the summer.
The forecast was similar for rain, with the coastal areas of Western Australia from the Midwest to Kimberley the only places showing a greater chance of wetter than average conditions.
"The summer seems particularly dry with high odds of conditions drier than average on the East Coast, including Tasmania," said Dr. Watkins.
BoM said a positive Indian Ocean dipole, which moves weather systems that would typically drive rain away from Australia; and a negative southern annular mode, were driving continued hot and dry conditions.
According to Reuters from the office they reported that temperatures in most of the country were higher than average during the day and at night. "This prospect also means that the risk of heat waves increases," Dr. Watkins said.
Australia's unstable power grid has suffered blackouts for the past two summers as old coal plants collapsed from the heat, just as demand for power for air conditioners soared.
The dry spring and weak prospects for summer rains in the east were mainly due to warmer-than-average waters in the Indian Ocean off Africa, combined with cooler-than-normal waters off Indonesia.
"The key culprit for our current and expected conditions is one of the strongest positive dipole events in the Indian Ocean on record," said Dr. Watkins.
That would also delay the onset of monsoon rains in Australia's tropical north until mid-summer. However, coastal areas of Western Australia showed greater odds of wetter conditions than average, the Meteorology office said.