Australian Communities Brace for Christmas Floods

australian communities brace for christmas floods

australian communities brace for christmas floods

australian communities brace for christmas floods 1

Floods in the state of South Australia are forecast to be the worst since 1956, after official analysis showed when waters are expected to peak. Thousands of properties are expected to be inundated. This week the Australian military was brought in to help with evacuations and flood preparations.

This is a slow-moving disaster as floodwaters bear down on South Australia.

The flooding is caused by vast amounts of rain that have fallen in the eastern Australian states of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, over the past three years. They have experienced widespread flooding and record-breaking rainfall.

Much of that water is slowly flowing into the Murray River in South Australia. Hundreds of properties have already been inundated and authorities have warned many more could follow.

John Gerhardy is a Lutheran pastor in areas likely to see floodwaters peak between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

He told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Friday that his parishioners felt great unease.

“Certainly, causing some feelings of fear and anxiety about what it will actually mean over the next months,” said Gerhardy. “For some increased isolation. In general people are able to look at the big picture and see, well, they have gotten though things before. The joy of Christmas is still to be celebrated but maybe just in different ways and in ways that need to be more flexible this year.”

Two climatic phenomena, La Niña — the cooling of parts of the Pacific Ocean – and the Indian Ocean Dipole – the gap between eastern and western Indian Ocean surface temperatures – have been fueling the flooding. Both occur naturally and are influenced by warmer ocean temperatures. They have dumped above-average rainfall across much of Australia, and experts believe they have been exacerbated by climate change.

However, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said in a December 6 update that the Indian Ocean Dipole has returned to neutral.

The La Niña weather phenomenon that’s fueled the flooding is expected to continue to influence Australia’s climate until next February, according to the bureau.

Sydney is having its wettest year on record. More than two meters of rain have fallen on Australia’s biggest city, breaking the previous record set in 1950.

VOA

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