Don’t wait for the official declaration
While the Bureau of Meteorology hasn’t yet declared an El Niño in 2023, that’s not a reason to ignore the onset of the summer season and the anticipated perils created by dry conditions.
Australia’s climate drivers
Australia’s weather is influenced by many different climate features, but El Niño and La Niña undoubtedly have the biggest influence. Both have global impacts on weather, bushfires, ecosystems and economies.
El Niño typically means:
Shift in temperature extremes
Increased frost risk
Less tropical cyclones
Later monsoon season
Increased fire danger (in southeast Australia)
Decreased alpine snow depths
La Niña typically means:
Cooler daytime temperatures (south of the tropics)
Warmer overnight temperatures (in the north)
Shift in temperature extremes
Decreased frost risk
More tropical cyclones
Earlier monsoon season
According to the National Ocean Service, cycles of El Niño and La Niña typically last nine to 12 months but can sometimes last longer. The last La Niña for example, started in late 2020 and ran until mid-2022. They typically occur every two to seven years, but they’re
unpredictable and don’t work to a set schedule! And El Niño generally occurs more frequently than La Niña.
El Niño sees rainfall move away from the western Pacific region. This means Australia’s rainfall is usually reduced during winter and spring, particularly across the eastern and northern parts of the continent.
Nine of the ten driest winter/spring periods on record for eastern Australia occurred during El Niño years*.
A dry warm period forecast in most states and territories
While no official El Niño has been declared, ongoing weather patterns in the region suggest it’s coming. Although a declaration would give emergency services more predictability about dry and hot conditions during the summer, long-range weather forecasts show the next three months are set to be hot and dry regardless. The National Council for Fire and Emergency Services (AFAC) has large parts of eastern and central Australia
marked in red in its recent outlook.
It may seem surprising that after three years of heavy rain during La Niña, the risk of bushfire should be so high. However, the excessive rain has led to the rapid
regrowth of vegetation and this increases the risk of fire, particularly in grassy areas.
It’s not only a current risk. The combination of decreased rainfall and increased maximum temperatures brought by an El Niño increases the frequency of high fire danger ratings and the risk of a significant fire danger season (particularly in southeast Australia) in the
subsequent year too.
Tips to prepare yourself and your property
You might not be able to change the weather, but you can make sure people and properties are prepared with some simple steps.
1. Consider health and welfare issues
Extreme heat or protracted periods of high temperatures are harmful to our health and to our pets and other animals. Look out for vulnerable residents and animals where possible.
2. Carry out regular property inspections
Regular property inspections can help owners stay ahead of any issues and ensure they’re prepared for all weather conditions.
Make sure gutters are free of leaves and twigs and install metal gutter guards.
Repair damaged or missing roof tiles.
Install fine metal mesh screens on windows and doors.
Repair or seal any gaps around windows and doors, or in external walls.
Enclose areas under outdoor decks and floors.
Ensure air-conditioning units have been serviced.
Keep lawns and gardens well maintained, including pruning overhanging trees and shrubs.
Ensure hoses are long enough to reach around the property.
If you have a pool, tank or dam, put a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign on your property entrance, so firefighters know where they can get water.
Make sure if there’s a fire hydrant outside your scheme it’s easily located and unobstructed.
Ensure clear access to stairwells and other areas for emergency services.
3. Have a plan and share it
In the event of an emergency, like a bushfire, make sure everyone in your scheme knows what to do. Create a plan that includes everyone knowing where the nearest community evacuation area is, how emergency services will be contacted and include links for people to check the latest alerts, weather forecasts etc.
4. Review insurance policies
Now is a good time to check your level of insurance cover. Whether it’s strata insurance for the building or contents insurance for your personal belongings, make sure you have an adequate sum insured so you’re not left underinsured if an event occurs. Speak to BCB if
United, protecting communities
We all have a role to play in helping protect the communities we represent. As a broker, our role is to help prepare for insured events and reduce the likelihood of a claim, as well as help you navigate through the claims process if you are impacted.
Don’t wait until disaster strikes…take action today.
If you have any questions, please contact Nick Swallow at email@example.com or call 08 6245 5300.
This article was brought to you by BCB