A high risk (red) forecast means that there is a high pollen forecast and severe thunderstorm(s) with strong winds are likely to be present increasing the risk of an epidemic thunderstorm asthma event occuring.

Forecasts are not a formal ‘warning’ and are designed to inform people at risk that they should be prepared. The forecast only indicates whether the chance of an epidemic thunderstorm asthma event occurring is increased – a higher forecast does not mean than an event is certain to happen, nor does a lower forecast mean that an event will not happen.

What should I do on days with increased risk?

People should be aware of the heightened risk of thunderstorm asthma in general throughout the grass pollen season and be appropriately prepared. The forecast should not replace appropriate prevention and good asthma and hay fever management, which is the best way to protect yourself from thunderstorm asthma.

The forecasting system is also not designed to forecast the risk of individuals experiencing asthma and hay fever symptoms, which occur every year during the grass pollen season.

People with current, past or undiagnosed asthma or hay fever are considered to be at risk. Having both asthma and hay fever or poorly controlled asthma increases the risk further.

Those at increased risk should:

  • avoid exposure to any storms that may emerge, especially the wind gusts that precede them
  • have a reliever appropriately available (as discussed with your doctor or pharmacist)
  • remind themselves of their asthma action plan if they have one and know the four steps of asthma first aid.

On a high risk day the department will issue up-to-date relevant advice and warnings on the VicEmergency warning platform.

The risk forecast for the current day is only updated once, at approximately 12:30pm. Any further updates (such as public advice and warnings) will be posted on the VicEmergency website and app.