Fire Weather Warnings

Introduction

Wind, temperature, humidity and rainfall are weather elements that affect the behaviour of bushfires. In Australia there is a system of assessing these in conjunction with the state of the available fuels to determine a measure of "fire danger" or the difficulty of putting out any fires which may occur. The Bureau of Meteorology alerts the public when conditions are likely to be dangerous. These services products include Fire Weather Warnings and Total Fire Ban Advices.

Changes to Fire Weather Warnings and Forecasts from October 2010

The Bureau of Meteorology has modified its forecasts and warnings to be consistent with the latest changes to the Fire Danger Ratings used by fire agencies.

What's changed?

In 2009 the Extreme category was divided into three levels - Severe, Extreme and Catastrophic (Code Red in Victoria). These index ranges were common for both the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) and the Grass Fire Danger Index (GFDI). In October 2010, fire agencies adopted a revised scale for some areas. Within the modified arrangements, there are different ranges for the grass and forest indices.

Because a single range of index values no longer correspond to the danger ratings of Severe, Extreme and Catastrophic (Code Red) , the Bureau will indicate the Fire Danger Rating Category without reference to the Fire Danger Index. For example "Extreme: FDR 75 to 99" will now be shown as "Extreme".

The new Fire Danger Ratings.

Due to software constraints and accessibility requirements, the Bureau of Meteorology uses slightly different colours to those used in printed material produced by fire agencies for Fire Danger Ratings. Refer to the table below.

 

Note: Catastrophic fire danger will be indicated by the colour black in Tasmania.

Fire Weather Warnings

The Bureau of Meteorology issue Fire Weather Warnings when weather conditions are conducive to the spread of dangerous bushfires. Warnings are generally issued within 24 hours of the potential onset of hazardous conditions. Warnings are also broadcast on radio and television.
Fire agencies determine Fire Danger Ratings. In most States and Territories, fire agencies declare fire bans based on a range of criteria including forecast weather provided by the Bureau.

The information contained in Fire Weather Warnings includes:

  • The office which issued the warning
  • The local time, day and date that it was issued
  • A description of the relevant meteorological conditions and Fire Danger Rating
  • The area where weather conditions are conducive to the spread of dangerous fires
  • The time period for which it will be in effect

The Bureau also incorporates Total Fire Ban Advices into warnings if one is being enforced at the time of issue and an action statement from local fire authorities detailing areas where the ban is in effect.

Fire Weather Warnings are distributed through the media, fire agencies and other key emergency service organisations. Warnings are normally issued in the afternoon for the following day so to be available for evening television and radio news broadcasts. Warnings are renewed at regular intervals and generally at the same time major forecasts are issued. However, warnings may be issued or amended and reissued at any time if a need is identified. If there is a Fire Weather Warning current, the Bureau will mention this in State, Territory and District weather forecasts for that area.

In each State the issue of a Fire Weather Warning has different impacts on restrictions for lighting fires. Check with the fire authority and / or local council in your area for details.
Sample Fire Weather Warning

Total Fire Bans

The Bureau of Meteorology does not have the power to declare a Total Fire Ban. This responsibility resides with designated fire agencies in each State and Territory. However, in South Australia, Northern Territory, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania, the Bureau does issue Total Fire Ban Advices to assist publicising and distributing the message. The Bureau also includes information about the existence of current fire bans in weather forecasts and warnings.

The areas covered by fire bans do not align with Bureau forecast districts in New South Wales, Tasmania and Northern Territory. Check with the local fire authority and / or council about fire ban boundaries in your area and the obligations associated with adhering to Total Fire Ban restrictions.
Sample Fire Ban Advice

Further Information

Contact your local fire authority for further information on fire safety.

Up-to-date weather information is available on radio and from Bureau of Meteorology offices.

Notice Board

References