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NSW weather delays fire season preparation, rain to continue for months

He added that while 5.5 million hectares of the state had burned in 2019-20, these areas were regenerating and they would experience fires again.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s outlook for August to October has forecast above-average rainfall from eastern Queensland to the NSW South Coast, with parts of Victoria and the Northern Territory likely to also experience heavy rainfall.

The agency also warned that saturated soil from recent rainfall events, as well as full water systems – including most dams around NSW above 70 per cent capacity – would exacerbate flooding risks across much of eastern Queensland and NSW for the coming months.

Bureau of Meteorology chief executive officer Dr Andrew Johnson said the landscape was saturated, and dams and rivers were full.

He added that it would probably be some months before the agency is able to declare a third successive La Nina event, and if climate drivers are strong, it would provide greater confidence to authorities of the risk of a wet summer.

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Johnson added that the impacts of climate change were already being experienced, including more intense rainfall events, lengthening fire seasons, and declining rainfall trends in south-west Western Australia and the south-east corner of Australia. But he said it was difficult to link individual events, such as the wet weather NSW experienced three weeks ago, to climate change.

“We know the frequency and intensity of severe weather is increasing all over the world,” he said. “We are experiencing that in Australia.”

Johnson said it was typical to experience an average of 22 east coast lows each year, with seven that are significant, and two weather events where rainfall exceeds 100 millimetres.

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Sydney has already recorded its wettest July on record, with 365 millimeters falling in the CBD. The previous wettest July was 1950 with 336 millimeters. The usual average rainfall in July for Sydney is 96 millimetres.

In the past 207 days of this year, the state has recorded rain on 123 days, making it the city’s fourth rainiest year-to-date on record. The only years with more rain in the past 26 days were in 1890, 1893 and 1989.

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