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Australia's drought expected to persist in spring

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Australia's spring is expected to be warmer and drier than average, following one of the driest winters on record, the country's Bureau of Meteorology said on Thursday.

[MELBOURNE] Australia's spring is expected to be warmer and drier than average, following one of the driest winters on record, the country's Bureau of Meteorology said on Thursday.

The forecast provided little relief to Australia's farmers, hit by a prolonged drought that has parched grain growing areas, as well as cattle and sheep farming regions. It also means the country faces a long, tough bushfire season, fire authorities warned earlier this week.

The weather bureau forecast warmer than average days and nights for most of Australia over the next three months. Only some parts of southern Australia and Tasmania would see cooler conditions, it said in its outlook for the southern hemisphere spring, which runs from September through November.

"Unfortunately, the outlook is not indicating an easing of conditions in drought areas," the bureau's head of long range forecasts, Andrew Watkins, said in a statement.

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New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland all face drier than average conditions across most of those states.

The forecast for Western Australia shows drier than average conditions are likely in southern parts of the state.

The bureau said it plans to provide more frequent updates to its forecasts over the coming weeks, with weekly and fortnightly rainfall and temperature outlooks.

REUTERS