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Posted by Oliphant Science Awards

on 22/07/2021

by Chris Sedunary and Belinda Dunbar, CFS

The science of weather is called meteorology. At the Country Fire Service, during bushfire season we have a staff member from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) with us throughout the season. Meteorologists study the weather and try to forecast it. Forecasting the weather involves many scientific factors and variables and it is not always easy. BOM Meteorologist Jonathan Fischer shares…

“Weather is critical to understand the risk of bushfires. This is why BOM works closely with fire agencies like the CFS, to forecast Fire Danger Ratings and keep us informed of weather conditions when a bushfire does start.

The main weather elements to determine the Fire Danger Rating are wind speed, temperature and humidity. How dry the vegetation or 'fuel' is and how thick these fuels are, is also important. Together, this will tell you how dangerous a fire will be if one was to start.

To help forecast the weather, Meteorologists at BOM monitor the weather charts for patterns that increase fire danger. One of these patterns you too can look out for, is a hot and windy day ahead of an approaching cold front. These are the days when the Fire Danger Rating can reach Severe, Extreme or even Catastrophic, the highest rating and most dangerous conditions.

Once you know the forecast Fire Danger Rating, you can make plans and take early action to make sure you stay safe, well before a bushfire starts”.

Weather conditions influence the size, intensity, speed and predictability of fires and how dangerous these can be to the community. Lightning caused by storms can start bushfires and bushfires themselves can create their own weather systems called pyro cumulonimbus, which create more erratic, unpredictable and dangerous bushfire behaviour.

By understanding the science involved in bushfire weather we can help increase our own safety and that of the community. You can learn more about fire weather from the Bureau of Meteorology at Fire Weather (

We are proud to have The SA Country Fire Service and Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience as our Poster Category sponsor this year!

You can view all the 2020 Poster winning entries here.