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'Extreme' map lays bare daunting months ahead for Australia

The prediction spells bad news for virtually every Australian state and territory.

A potentially lethal cocktail of weather extremes is set to make life uncomfortable for millions of Australians in the coming months, with temperatures expected to skyrocket, lashing virtually every part of the country.

While it's long been expected that spring will bring another season of warmer-than-average conditions, following on from a warm, dry winter, climatologists at the Bureau of Meteorology say the upcoming months will also usher in an increased risk of bushfires, rising sea temperatures and dangerous weather conditions across large parts of the country.

Last week the Bureau released a series of daunting maps as part of its climate outlook for the coming months. One in particular is striking thanks to the entire country being covered in red – indicating a high probability that all of Australia will have higher temperatures than average over the next three months.

Three main factors at play

"There's a number of factors that go into our long-range forecast," Climatologist Caitlin Minney told Yahoo News Australia.

"That includes the positive Indian Ocean Dipole and El Niño — which models suggest will develop over spring, typically leading to lower rainfall across eastern Australia and higher maximum temperatures — and global warming.

Maps showing the chances of median maximum temperatures being exceeded, for September 3-16 left and 10-23 right. Dark red represents an 80% chance of higher temperatures.
The maps show the chances of median maximum temperatures being exceeded, for September 3-9. Dark red represents an 80% chance of higher temperatures. Source: Bureau of Meteorology.

"So during the spring, during an El Nino, we would expect mostly eastern Australia to have lower rainfall and south-eastern Australia to have higher maximum temperatures.

"And during a positive Indian Ocean Dipole, we would expect central and southern Australia and parts of Northern Australia to have reduced rainfall, and maximum temperatures to be really heightened across a lot of eastern and southern Australia.

"And when those are combined, that effect can be exacerbated."

Three regions facing increased risk of spring bushfires

With spring just days away, Ms Minney said there's three main Aussie jurisdictions that's expected to see an increased risk of bushfire activity.

"There are areas that are at an increased risk of fire — that's mostly throughout Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory. There's also small parts of Victoria and South Australia with an increased risk," she said.

Map on the left shows the chance of median maximum temperatures for October being exceeded, and right for September to November. Both maps are predominantly dark red indicating an 80% chance of higher temperatures.
The chance of above median maximum temperatures for October, left, and for September to November, shown right, with dark red showing areas where the chance of higher than media temperatures is at least 80 per cent. Source: Bureau of Meteorology.

Higher risk of drought, rising sea temperatures

And naturally, warmer weather also brings a higher risk of drought, Ms Minney said, and the likelihood of warmer sea temperatures, which can have a devastating effect on the nation's fishing sector.

"So areas to watch out for are southwest and western WA, Southern Queensland, and northeast NSW," she said. "We're also expecting extreme heat for a lot of southern and central WA.

"We're looking at an increase in warm anomalies in the Tasman Sea, so between Victoria, NSW and New Zealand, and also, we're still expecting to see slightly above average sea surface temperature anomalies for September to November. So along the Queensland and NSW coast and off the northwest of WA.

"Usually during an El Niño we would expect cooler than average temperatures to be in the western Pacific, but we're not seeing a strong cooler than average signal appearing yet."

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