Horror summer on the cards

Generic hot weather photo.
Generic hot weather photo. Contributed

SUMMER has come out swinging this week with an extreme five-day heatwave forecast to hit large parts of Queensland from today.

Temperatures are set to soar to 37 degrees today and tops expected to stay at or above 35 degrees until Tuesday, giving us a precursor of what could be coming over the next three months.

Experts are warning a dry, hot summer is on the cards as three climatic conditions are positioning themselves around the continent to deliver a horror season.

HOT & DRY: Gympie's climate outlook for summer. Courtesy of Bureau of Meteorology.
HOT & DRY: Gympie's climate outlook for summer. Courtesy of Bureau of Meteorology. Contributed

For Gympie this summer, temperatures are 80 per cent likely to exceed the usual average temperatures with only a 35% chance of reaching the median rainfall.

Bureau of Meteorology climatologist Jeff Sabburg said the predicted dry is influenced by warm ocean patterns, as well as a northward shift in the prevailing subtropical westerly winds to the south of Australia known as a negative Southern Annular Mode, or SAM.

"(The SAM) shifts westerly winds into Queensland, which are normally further south, and moderates the onshore moisture," he said.

It effectively brings a dry air that contributes to the higher temperature, he said.

In the Pacific, the La Nina, which sees rainfall lead by cooler sea temperatures, is slow to form and has not been this late since 1980, Mr Sabburg said.

LICK THE HEAT: Two people took matters into their own hands in summer heat early this year. Australia had its third hottest year on record last year.
LICK THE HEAT: Two people took matters into their own hands in summer heat early this year. Australia had its third hottest year on record last year. PETER PARKS

Meanwhile the Indian Ocean Dipole is ceasing to push wetter weather towards Australia, making it the third element in the trifecta of conditions that could see a high temperature and dry blow delivered to South East Queensland over summer.

The concoction of conditions also brings with it an ongoing and heightened chance of bush fires this summer, dictated in part by this year's previous rainfall patterns.

High rainfall activity over winter and lower than average rainfall during September means forest fuel availability continues to increase.

With the high likelihood of a dry and hot summer, in particular December, the bushfire potential for areas of south east Queensland is now above normal

The Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre has warned that the high rainfall in inland Queensland over winter has spurred plant growth.

HOT & DRY: Gympie's rainfall outlook for summer. Courtesy of Bureau of Meteorology.
HOT & DRY: Gympie's rainfall outlook for summer. Courtesy of Bureau of Meteorology. Contributed

Added with the hot and dry conditions, the vegetation has become ripe for burning.

Fire Brigades Employees Union president Darrin Sullivan, whose members are on the bushfire frontline, said he was concerned about this summer.

He said the previous wet weather had increased the fuel loads and also hampered the fire service's ability to put in hazard reductions.

Gympie Times

Topics:  gympie region hot weather outlook summer 2016

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