Grim prediction for Aussie summer after 'La Niña triple threat' declared

·News Reporter
·3-min read

With Aussies in for another wet Summer and potential flooding, an expert is encouraging people to act now to avoid "heartache."

Following a prediction for a third La Niña weather event forming in the coming months, history lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Dr Margaret Cook, said we have "the advantage of time" as Aussie brace for more potentially devastating bouts of rain.

"What’s really important is that we have a warning, so let's be proactive about this," Ms Cook told Yahoo News Australia.

State emergency staff stand near the entrance to the flooded Windsor bridge on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, Thursday, March 3, 2022. Around 500,000 people in Sydney and its surrounds have been told to evacuate or prepare to flee floodwaters as torrential rain lashes an extraordinarily long stretch of the Australian east coast. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
State emergency staff stand near the entrance to the flooded Windsor bridge on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, Thursday, March 3, 2022. Source: AAP /Rick Rycroft

She said that too often we are "reactive" and leave things to last minute when we are already stressed and exhausted.

"We have fire plans, cyclone plans, where are our flood plans?"

"Acting in advance saves lives, possessions, and heartache," Dr Cook said.

Her warning comes after parts of Queensland and NSW's northern rivers region endured historic flooding earlier this year.

How should we act as individuals

Dr Cook said we should be thinking about our possessions of value, such as photo albums, toys for our children, medication, and have them "ready to go."

"Think about what’s important and how you’re going to protect that," she said, particularly for those in flood prone areas.

She also said to be mindful of any draining issues, as well as your mode of transport and where you will sleep if flooding does occur.

How should we act as a community

Dr Cook encouraged people to "think about protecting our most vulnerable."

"Where do the older or more vulnerable people live? People with mobility issues? Keep an eye out for them," she said.

With many communities in Australia such as northern NSW still reeling from destructive floods, Dr Cook said it's important we keep conversations going about “building back better” and designing our cities to be more flood resilient.

"I have a friend who is living in a tent – a shell of a home," she lamented.

Three girls collecting belongings while walking through flood waters. Source AAP
Three girls collecting belongings while walking through flood waters. Source AAP

Australia's previous 'triple threat' La Niña events

Dr Cook explained that this will be the fourth time there has been three back-to-back La Niña events in Australia in the past 120 years.

"The 1954 floods today remain the largest and most devastating to ever hit many communities on the New South Wales north coast," she said.

"On 20 February 1954 an unnamed cyclone crossed land at Coolangatta, delivering heavy rain to a saturated region.

"As many as 30 lives may have been lost in subsequent floods. The fishing industry at Byron Bay was destroyed, with 22 vessels lost."

Another significant triple La Niña event was in the 1970's which was the longest sustained La Niña period on record, and hit parts of eastern Australia.

"Cyclones Una, Vera and Wanda brought their accompanying monsoonal troughs to Queensland and in January 1974, 900,000 million tonnes of rain fell, flooding much of the state," she said.

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