Fire dangers spiking in SA and VIC

Joel Pippard, 28 December 2018

Fire danger ratings are reaching dangerous levels in both South Australia and Victoria in the midst of a severe heatwave.

Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) values have already exceeded 100 in some parts of SA today (using a drought factor of 10), resulting in a catastrophic fire danger rating for the Mid North district.

Values of above 75 (extreme fire danger) have also been recorded from many of the weather stations in the North West and North East Pastorals, Flinders, and Eyre Peninsula in SA this morning.

Severe fire dangers with an FFDI greater than 50 have been observed over large parts of SA but also in the Mallee and Wimmera districts in VIC.

These dangerous fire conditions are a result of temperatures hovering in the low-to-mid forties with sustained winds of 40-50km/h and relative humidities in the single digits.

Compounding the fire risk, a southerly component wind change is expected for SA this afternoon with a combined trough and seabreeze effect. On Thursday, this same type of change brought 82km/h wind gusts to both Port Augusta and Port Pirie in the Mid North district. This strong but brief wind change prompted a severe weather warning for damaging winds to be issued by the Bureau of Meteorology.

There is also the chance of some isolated dry thunderstorms over the region. Dry thunderstorms are simply thunderstorms that do not produce any rain and can start bushfires. While the chance of these storms are low, their threat cannot be ignored.

As the trough drawing in the heat and producing the gusty winds edges north from Saturday, the fire danger will ease. However, with rainfall only a small chance in the coming days for inland parts, it is possible severe or higher fire dangers could return in the first week of the New Year.

Current fire conditions can be found at Official Fire Danger Ratings from the SA Country Fire Service are here, and VIC Country Fire Authority are here.