Residents urged to be ready as climate hotter & drier
In the wake of several life-threatening bushfires, weather data has revealed what many already knew was true — Geraldton is getting hotter and drier, and the fire risk is growing.
On Friday, Bureau of Meteorology data showed Geraldton was 1.2C hotter and 25 per cent drier than historical averages, while the State experienced its second-hottest year on record.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services Mid West and Gascoyne Supt Craig Smith, pictured, said it was clear climate change was affecting the bushfire season, saying it was essential people living in the region remained alert to the risk.
“It’s likely to get worse and we need to adapt,” he said.
Supt Smith said his division had a “strategic plan for the region” which included informing residents of the risks and taking preventative measures to protect lives and homes.
Bureau meteorologist Neil Bennett agreed bushfire conditions were worsening in Geraldton, with the city’s mean maximum temperature reaching 27.1C in 2020 — a figure not seen in decades of recorded history before 2011.
The City’s BoM testing point moved to a new part of the air-port nine years ago, creating some room for error when analysing data.
However, Mr Bennett estimated Geraldton’s mean maximum temperature was 1.2C hotter than average in 2020, based on figures from the previous airport site and consistent with figures for the region, which show an average deviation of 0.9C.
The average annual rainfall captured in Geraldton is 444ml per year, but last year the town only recorded 332ml — 25 per cent less than average.
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