What another La Nina weather event could mean for Australia’s summer

Australians are concerned about what the upcoming summer 2022-2023 might hold for the country.

Many families are still rebuilding themselves following the massive forest fires and dangerous floods that have destroyed communities in recent years.

A major warning from the Bureau of Meteorology earlier this week sparked fears that Australia was heading for another deadly spell in December, January and February.

With more than three months into summer, here’s everything you need to know about what it could be.

NED-6935 Double hit in case of rain

What does Australian summer look like?

Meteorologists say it is still too early to predict with certainty what the Australian summer will be like, with a detailed climate perspective to be released once spring begins.

But the Bureau gave a great indication that the country could be in another rainy summer earlier this week when it switched from “La Nina WATCH” to “La Nina ALERT”.

This means that there is now a roughly 70% chance that a weather event in La Nina will hit Australia this spring.

Weather events in La Nina are associated with heavy downpours and widespread flooding and led to the scorching conditions experienced in the summers of 2020-2021 and 2021-2022.

The office said that if another La Nina event settles in the Pacific Ocean, “rain conditions will persist throughout the summer.”

“At the moment, the Bureau of Meteorology is on the lookout for La Nina, which means we are more likely to see a La Nina this summer,” office meteorologist Laura Boekel said.

“If we only see La Nina, we might as well expect to see a rainy summer.”

Sky News meteorologist Alison Osborne said a La Nina will likely last until at least early summer.

“It looks like a low that will likely last until early summer at the earliest,” he told NCA NewsWire.

“But there are a lot of differences as to what he will do after January.”

Careers Provided SOURCE: University of Monash Climate Change Communication Research Center
Camera iconA weather event in La Nina means a greater chance of rain in Australia in the spring and summer. University of Monash Climate Change Communication Research Center Credit: Provided

What is the significance of another weather event in La Nina?

Australia watches the barrel of its third consecutive weather event in La Nina after the Bureau alert.

The country has only had three consecutive La Nina events since records began to be kept. The latest case of this phenomenon dates back more than two decades ago, from 1998 to 2001.

When the office’s La Nina criteria were met in the past, as was the case on Tuesday, a La Nina event developed about 70% of the time.

In addition to leading to cooler temperatures and more tropical cyclones, La Nina’s presence is mainly associated with an increased risk of rain and widespread flooding.

Of the 18 La Nina events since 1900, including multi-year events, 12 have resulted in flooding in parts of Australia.

Ms Osborne said it was too early to determine where floods could occur, but possible areas included southeastern Queensland., The coast of NSW, Victoria and even Tasmania.

Camera iconIt could be another rainy summer in Sydney. NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard Credit: News Corp Australia

But he warned that this flood could be “dangerous” due to the rainy conditions encountered during the winter.

“We are looking into a rinse and a repeat from last summer until fall when we had our dominant climate dominated by La Nina,” said Ms. Osborne.

“The problem this time around is that we were deprived of a dry winter in eastern Australia.

“The soils have dried up… this means that floods are likely to be exacerbated when they fall on a somewhat humid area. It’s not about falling into a dry area or whichever it was before.

“It could be quite dangerous for floods and it will likely take less rain to produce these dangerous floods in some areas as well.”

A car overturned following the devastating floods of Lismore.  Jason O'Brien
Camera iconA car overturned following the devastating floods in Lismore. Jason O’Brien Credit: Provided

What is the advice to the public?

The office’s La Nina alert prompted NSW and Queensland authorities to warn the public about what the weather event could mean for their respective states.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told residents that more rain than usual was expected in the spring and summer.

“The good news is that we are not expecting a big fire season, but we are expecting a rainier spring than normal,” he said on Monday.

“These conditions could be similar to those of the summer of this year.

“I don’t want the people of Queensland to be alarmed, but what we want is for the people to be prepared.

“It is so early in the cycle that we can do everything we can to prepare for a very rainy spring that leads to a rainy summer again.”

Camera iconQueensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state is likely to experience a rainier spring and summer. NCA NewsWire / John Gass Credit: News Corp Australia

This rain will increase the risk of flooding across the state as the ground has not had a chance to dry out due to a rainy winter season.

Queensland Emergency and Fire Services Commissioner Greg Leach also explained that there was still a risk of fires even with rain forecast.

“Our modeling still shows that we are likely to experience a normal fire season,” he said.

“While we are unlikely to see widespread fires like the ones we saw in 2018-19, we will see significant grass firing activity in some parts of the state.

“The recent rains we’ve had have led to significant grass load growth in the western, central and southern parts of Queensland, and the frosts we’ve seen in recent weeks have drained much of that vegetation.”

Camera iconQueensland Emergency and Fire Services Commissioner Greg Leach said there would be an increased risk of grass fires. NCA NewsWire / John Gass Credit: News Corp Australia

In New South Wales, SES Commissioner Carlene York also warned residents to expect adverse weather conditions and to prepare for possible flooding.

“With wet soils, tall rivers, full dams and above-average rainfall forecasts, a high risk of flooding remains,” he said.

“Know your flood risk, develop your flood plan and make sound and safe decisions.

“Simple things like packing an emergency escape kit can be incredibly useful and help you in case you need to evacuate your home.”

The state’s approach to future floods and other disasters will be different following an overwhelming report on the Northern Rivers and the Hawkesbury-Nepean floods.

Premier Perrottet update on weather and floods
Camera iconNSW SES Commissioner Carlene York said the public should be prepared for floods. NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard Credit: News Corp Australia

Following the survey recommendations, Resilience NSW will be transformed into a “lighter and more agile agency” called Recovery NSW.

A partial merger of NSW SES and the larger NSW Rural Fire Service was also recommended.

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