Brett Dutschke, 08 Mar 2012, 9:10 AM UTC
WA facing increased fire danger, Perth heading for record
Western Australia's central west and southwest are facing increased fire danger and Perth is heading for a heat record as hot, dry, gusty winds develop. On Friday, temperatures will soar to the high 30s and low 40s, for the fifth day in a row in the Central West and Central Wheat Belt. This heat will combine with dry easterly winds, which will become fresh and gusty, raising the fire danger to at least a severe level north of about Perth. Easterly winds have been drawing heat from the desert, which has been building under sunny skies for the past week. These easterlies will increase on Friday due to a trough deepening near the west coast. The driest, hottest and windiest area will be in the Central West and Central Wheat Belt. Much of this area has not recorded any rainfall in at least a month, making it one of the driest and dustiest parts of Australia. It is also a region which had below average rainfall during summer, allowing the grass and bush to become very dry after a wetter-than-normal spring and winter generated some growth. Looking ahead to the weekend and early next week, the fire danger will still be a concern because wind and heat will only drop off a little. The area is still heading for temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s. Meanwhile, in the southwest of the state, the Perth area is heading for another heatwave, which will make this a record-breaking season. It is due to be the city's eighth heatwave since the beginning of November last year. The previous record in a November-to-March period was seven heatwaves, in 1977/78. For Perth, a heatwave is defined as at least three consecutive days of at least 35 degrees. The city is forecast to reach 38 degrees or hotter for four days starting Friday. Fire danger will also be on the rise in the Perth area during the coming days, most likely reaching a rating of very high.