The lack of rain on Saturday’s weather forecast will deliver Wollongong its driest September on record.
The city’s record-breaking dry spell comes as the state’s statutory bushfire danger period begins on Sunday and as firefighting authorities warn of above-normal fire potential across the Illawarra and South Coast this summer.
NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers have already responded to 5608 bush and grass fires across the state since July 1.
More than 2500 of those fires occurred during September, an average of 86 fires a day, while five of them resulted in an emergency warning being issued by the RFS.
Two of the fires that reached emergency warning – the highest level of bushfire alert – burned in the Shoalhaven in recent weeks.
One of them was a large blaze that ripped through the Booderee National Park at Jervis Bay.
The fire, which began early on September 14, burnt 1691 hectares.
On Monday, an emergency warning was issued as multiple bushfires threatened homes at West Nowra.
Firefighters’ efforts limited property damage to a small garden shed and the guttering on a residential home.
The continued dry spell across the Illawarra has fire crews on heightened alert.
So far this month, a mere 0.4 millimetres of rain has fallen at Wollongong’s Bellambi weather station – well short of the suburb’s typical monthly average of 57.1mm.
The situation was even worse at Albion Park, where not a single drop of rain has been recorded in September to date.
The inland suburb’s September average is 45mm and last year it saw a wetter-than-usual 54.2mm.
Authorities have urged Illawarra residents to be on alert, given the warm and dry conditions forecast this long weekend.
Anyone planning a barbecue should check if a total fire ban has been declared before lighting up.
“The only Cowboys we want to hear about this weekend are the ones at the footy [NRL] grand final. The long weekend is a great occasion to fire up the barbecue, but it is important to do so safely,” Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter said.