RFS controller Brett Bowden encouraged by Blayney's wetter than average summer forecast

RAINY DAYS AHEAD: Robyn and Mick Flood get the umbrellas out on Monday. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting above average rainfall for October through to December. Photo CARLA FREEDMAN
RAINY DAYS AHEAD: Robyn and Mick Flood get the umbrellas out on Monday. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting above average rainfall for October through to December. Photo CARLA FREEDMAN

"A BEAUTIFUL thing" is how The Rural Fire Service's Canobolas zone operations coordinator Brett Bowden described forecasts for a wetter than average spring and summer for south eastern Australia.

Mr Bowden was commenting on the Bureau of Meteorology's predictions of a wetter October-December period with cooler days tempered by warmer nights.

The conditions are expected to trend down into January and February but BOM meteorologist Hugh McDowell said there was still a strong chance those months would be wetter than average.

Mr Bowden said any long-range forecast predicting milder conditions into the summer was welcome when compared to last year's catastrophic season which had most of the east coast burning.

"I think the long-term outlook is certainly more encouraging than it has been in the past," Mr Bowden said on Tuesday.

I think the long-term outlook is certainly more encouraging than it has been in the past

RFS operations coordinator Brett Bowden

In the season leading up to that (2018), the Canobolas RFS battled for four days to contain a fire on Mountain which started on February 10.

Smoke in the air from the Gospers Mountain fire marked Orange's 2020, that fire burned for 79 days aided by sweltering temperatures and winds and while this year's forecast means the RFS will hopefully be spared those conditions, Mr Bowden did have a warning.

"A wet winter and a wet spring makes things grow so there is more fuel around. January is still dry and there is still wind," he said, suggesting January and February still had the potential for flareups.

Mr McDowell explained the predicted milder spring and summer conditions were a result of the recent cooling in the tropical Pacific Ocean while in the Indian Ocean, warmer waters north of Australia are also weakening as the negative Indian Ocean dipole wanes.

"We're on La Nina watch," he commented..

The past winter was the wettest since 2016 and the ocean cooling will continue those patterns for the remainder of 2021.

September rainfall was also slightly above average for Orange with 79.2mm falling compared to the average of 78.8.

High levels of soil moisture and strong stream flows could also lead to some flooding in the region.

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