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Significant fires affected eastern Queensland, large parts of Tasmania, eastern Victoria, northeastern New South Wales, and South West Western Australia
Rainfall was below to very much below average across most of Australia, but above average for large parts of northern Queensland
Severe tropical cyclone Owen caused flooding in the Queensland’s eastern Cape York Peninsula in mid-December, and contributed to thunderstorms over southeast Australia, with flooding in western and northern Victoria
Dust storms originating from Central Australia affected the East on several occasions; one storm stretched over 1500 km
And two temperature jaw-droppers: 96.6°F, which was the overnight low temperature on Jan. 17 in New South Wales and was the country’s hottest nighttime low on record, and 104°F, which was the temperature reached or exceeded in Canberra for 4 consecutive days, something that had not occurred since records began there in 1939.
The implications are far-reaching. For example, Reuters reported that Australia’s severe heat resulted in several industries taking a hit, including the $4.4 billion wine industry with grape yields set to drop to the lowest in years. Wildfires are continuing to torch the Australian state of Victoria — firefighters struggled to battle 25 blazes there on Sunday, with more than 2,000 firefighters, water-bombing aircraft and volunteers on the front lines.
Why This Matters: This is continuing a string of years of extreme summer heat in Australia, and the Bureau of Meteorology there stated that the “pattern is consistent with observed climate change….This means that natural climate variability sits on top of this background warming, and temperature records are likely to continue to be broken in the coming years.” Those high temperatures — exceeding both high temperature and low temperature records, will impact human health as well, not to mention cause power demand to increase for air conditioning. Temperatures like these are beyond uncomfortable, they can be deadly, and many there are not prepared for them. There will be an election in May in Australia and many are predicting, particularly after this hot summer, that climate change will be a key issue there too.
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer As summer approaches, the Northern Plains of the United States and the Canadian Prairies, which are the world’s key growing regions for canola and spring wheat, are experiencing a record-breaking drought. Now, farmers fear that these parched fields won’t yield enough crop to satisfy unusually high demand. This fear […]
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Rescue efforts are underway across several islands in eastern Indonesia and East Timor after Tropical Cyclone Seroja struck the region last week. The storm’s heavy rains and powerful winds led to flash flooding and landslides, damaging homes and roads. At least 8,424 people have been displaced by the storm, […]
We recently wrote that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced a new pricing structure for its federal flood insurance program in an effort to improve the equitability of flood insurance. Disaster insurance and preparedness is a topic that is becoming an all too familiar topic as extreme weather events cause billions of dollars in […]
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