Here comes a high fire risk. Thanks a lot, El Niño

THE current El Niño climate system affecting Australia is likely to reach record levels by Christmas and create a severe bushfire season.

The head of the Bureau of Meteorology warned a recent Senate estimates committee hearing that the extreme weather phenomenon would continue well into 2016.

The Canberra hearing heard that El Niño was likely to result in 2015 being the Earth's hottest recorded year.

The severity of El Niño is likely to peak by Christmas, with BOM officials warning residents to brace themselves for severe bushfires.

Australian Firefighters Climate Alliance spokesman Dean McNulty said firefighters across the country were ready to deal with extreme conditions.

"The last time Australia experienced an extreme weather event like this was 2011 and 2012 when we had to deal with the opposite effect as a result of a La Niña weather event," he said. "That resulted in wide

spread flooding and devastation across Queensland.

"It's our job to be prepared for these sort of events."

Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queensland general manager Justin Choveaux said rain in south-east Queensland had filled dams but done little to abate the fire risk.

"We have El Niño coming, which means lower than average rainfall, and a hotter than average summer," he said.

"This year looks like a hard year. We've had quite a few fires already this year. The fire season will end when it rains properly."

Mr Choveaux said he was most concerned about the areas where "suburbia meets the bush" such as the Sunshine Coast hinterland and Hervey Bay.

"That's where all your danger lies because you can't trade land for time; there's high-density housing there all over the place," he said.

Twins make for double trouble at Ipswich Hospital

Twins make for double trouble at Ipswich Hospital

"March was the most popular months for twins”

Annette Mason inquest to hear from dozens of witnesses

Annette Mason inquest to hear from dozens of witnesses

Inquest was re-opened 28 years after teen died

Local Partners