Summer hasn’t started yet but Ipswich has experienced periods of exceptional heat with one of the top five driest springs on record – and the conditions are not over yet.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has released its summer forecast and has indicated residents in the region should expect a similar start to the season as last year.
On December 2, 2018 Ipswich experienced its hottest December day on record since 1944 as the temperature reached 41.5 degrees.
This year residents can expect similar conditions for the start of summer with Monday expected to hit 37 degrees and temperatures rising to 40 degrees throughout the week as the heatwave season sets in.
BoM head of long-range forecasts Dr Andrew Watkins said the warm weather was being influenced by one of the strongest positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) events on record.
“A positive IOD means we have cooler than average water pooling off Indonesia, and this means we see less rain-bearing weather systems, and warmer than average temperatures for large parts of the country,” Dr Watkins said.
The possibility of water restrictions for the South-East next year has been raised in recent weeks.
The combined total of all of Seqwater’s dams has fallen below 60 per cent, now sitting on 59.1 per cent, with Wivenhoe Dam at 47.3 per cent.
As a result an “every drop counts” campaign was rolled out on radio, buses and petrol pumps this week, with ads on television, Spotify, and YouTube to begin next week.
Dr Watkins said the outlook was an important reminder for the community to be alert to the potential severe weather risks over the coming months.
“We’ve already seen significant bushfire activity during spring, and the outlook for drier and warmer conditions will maintain that heightened risk over the coming months,” he said.
“This outlook also means the risk of heatwaves is increased, so it’s important the community stays up to date with the latest information and advice from authorities and the Bureau’s heatwave forecasts and warnings.”
Gardeners hoping for a bit of the wet stuff on their lawn and plants will likely have to wait a bit longer yet, with rainfall predicted to remain below average this summer.
This is due to the work of a negative Southern Annular Mode (SAM), the climate driver that can influence rainfall and temperature in Australia.
“While that negative SAM pattern remains and we’re getting fewer winds off the ocean and more of those westerly winds,” Dr Watkins said.
Into 2020, the influence of the IOD and the SAM should lessen but, it’s still looking very dry, with a 60 – 70 per cent chance moisture levels will continue to be far below average.
Are you prepared for summer?
Around the home
- Clear leaves, twigs, bark and other debris from the roof and gutters.
- Purchase and test the effectiveness of gutter plugs.
- Enclose open areas under decks and floors.
- Install fine steel wire mesh screens on all windows, doors, vents and weep holes.
- Point LPG cylinder relief valves away from the house.
- Conduct maintenance checks on pumps, generators and water systems.
- Seal all gaps in external roof and wall cladding.
- Relocate flammable items away from your home, including woodpiles, paper, boxes, crates, hanging baskets and garden furniture.
Make it easy for emergency services
- Display a prominent house or lot number, in case it is required in an emergency.
- Ensure there is adequate access to your property for fire trucks – four metres wide by four metres high, with a turn-around area.
In the garden
- Reduce vegetation loads along the access path.
- Mow your grass regularly.
- Remove excess ground fuels and combustible material (long dry grass, dead leaves and branches).
- Trim low-lying branches two metres from the ground surrounding your home.
Take care of yourself
- Check that you have sufficient personal protective clothing and equipment.
- Check the first aid kit is fully stocked.
- Make sure you have appropriate insurance for your home and vehicles.
- Have a bushfire survival plan.