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SES warns of flood risk following La Nina declaration

Sep 13, 2022


NSW residents – including those in the Hawkesbury – are again being urged to prepare for the risk of flooding, following the official declaration of a La Nina event by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) today – Tuesday.


NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) Commissioner Carlene York said today that while the agency is well-prepared for another busy period, it is critically important for people to take responsibility and be prepared.


“Today’s declaration means eastern Australia is heading into a third consecutive La Nina season, which presents unique risks and challenges,” Commissioner York said.


“There is already wet soil, high rivers and full dams right across our State, and with more rain on the horizon comes the very real possibility of flooding.


“If you live in a flood-prone area, I urge you to take steps to prepare now.”


“Make sure you know your risk, have an up-to-date emergency plan and emergency kit. Preparing early will save you vital time during an emergency.”


Bureau of Meteorology head of long-range forecasts, Dr Andrew Watkins, said on Tuesday the Bureau’s three-month climate outlook shows a high chance of above average rainfall for most of the eastern half of the Australian mainland and eastern Tasmania.


“During La Niña events, waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean are cooler than normal, and waters in the western tropical Pacific Ocean warmer than normal. This causes changes in wind, cloud and pressure patterns over the Pacific. When this change in the atmosphere combines with changes in ocean temperature, it can influence global weather patterns and climate, including increasing rainfall over large parts of Australia”.

Dr Watkins said while La Niña criteria have been met, most models forecast this event to be weak to moderate in strength, likely to peak during spring and ease during summer.


“La Niña is not the only driver influencing this wet outlook. To our west, a significant negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) event is underway. We expect the IOD influence will reduce in late spring or early summer,” Dr Watkins said.


“The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) is also in a positive phase, and likely to remain positive into summer. Positive SAM during summer pushes weather systems south, which increases the chance of rain in New South Wales, eastern Victoria and southern parts of Queensland,” he said.

Dr Watkins said all these climate influences push Australia’s climate towards a wetter phase, and together have shaped our outlook for the coming months that shows more than 80 per cent chance of above average rainfall for many parts of the eastern half of Australia.

With catchments already wet, the flood risk remains, particularly for eastern Australia.


“We know that time is crucial in emergencies,” SES Commissioner York said.


“If you receive an evacuation warning or order you need to already have a plan in place and be ready to act immediately.”


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