BOM map paints ‘horrible’ picture of upcoming summer
Australia is staring down the barrel of a horrific summer season that will drag scorching temperatures and extreme conditions well into the new year.
Forecaster Livio Remano has never seen such extreme conditions in the 20 years he has worked with the Bureau of Meteorology, comparing the long-term seasonal outlook to a bad chest X-ray.
"It's horrible, it's a horrible map to look at," he said on Thursday.
"I have never seen this before in my life … the entire country of Australia is covered in deep red."
That red colour means 70 to 80 per cent of the country will experience above-average temperatures. The forecast is based on an extremely positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD).
Westerly winds weaken along the equator and push warm water towards Africa during a typical IOD.
The wind changes allow cool water to rise from the depths of the ocean in the east, causing a temperature difference across the tropical Indian Ocean, with unusually cooler water in the east and warmer water in the west.
It means atmospheric moisture levels drop in Australia's northwest, which alters the path of weather systems coming from Australia's west.
The result is less rainfall and higher than normal temperatures over parts of Australia.
Queensland is moving into its wet season, but there is little chance of significant rainfall until January.
But eventually, Mr Remano says, the rain will come.
Whatever rain does fall will be isolated and could cause more harm than good with the threat of dry lightning strikes sparking new fires.
"What we need is English rain, but it is not forthcoming - certainly not anytime soon," he added.
The country must now brace for challenging fire conditions to continue throughout the summer.
Scientists, former fire chiefs and residents affected by the bushfire crisis say there's a link between this season's more intense fires and climate change.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison says there's no evidence that cutting the country's greenhouse gas emissions would reduce the risk of bushfires.
"The suggestion in any way shape or form that Australia - accounting for 1.3 per cent of the world's emissions … (is) impacting directly on specific fire events, whether it is here or anywhere else in the world, that doesn't bear up to credible scientific evidence," he told ABC radio.
Six people have died as a result of the fires since mid-October.
In Victoria, Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said firefighters were battling "some of the worst conditions that you'd expect to see often in February or March".
"It is incredibly dry, it will continue to get drier as the months go on over this summer, so the conditions we see today are likely conditions that we'll confront over this summer," she said.