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Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan acknowledges climate change a factor in extreme rain and flood events

Premier Jacinta Allan has acknowledged that climate change is a factor in extreme rain and flood events, and that more needs to be done in planning to mitigate extreme weather and flood events as part of climate adaptation, along with reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bureau of Meteorology has identified the first nine days of 2024 were Victoria’s wettest since records began in 1900, with an average of 62mm falling across the state since 1 January. The area-average of 62mm of rain from 1 January to 9 January beat the previous opening nine-day record of 50mm set in 1970. Using an area average for daily rainfall to 9am 8 January, the Bureau of Meteorology estimated 5.4% of Victoria was at Highest on record for rainfall for that day, with several site specific all time rainfall records surpassed. 

Interviewed by Richard Willingham on ABC Melbourne, Premier Jacinta Allan said; 

"There is clearly a change in our climate. Growing up in this part of the world, these summer storm events, it is troubling that it is becoming more common and the ferocity of these events. It does speak to the fact we need to recognise that the climate is changing. It does go to those broader measures we need to take as a government, as a community, as a society for action to transition to renewable energy, transition to how we can take stronger climate action."

"Separate to that, what also needs to be considered obviously as we plan for new houses, new communities, or how we build projects, these weather events and the impact of these weather events do need to be factored in. Indeed, legislation that went through the Victorian Parliament last year, our climate legislation, did require that the impact of the climate be factored into the planning initiatives at the earliest Opportunity."

".... What used to be a 1 in 100 year event for communities like Rochester have had 3 big flooding events in 10-11 years. The impact of climate does need to be considered in terms of future planning and decisions."

The Federal Government has now come on board with emergency and hardship payments to individuals, businesses and Councils as announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday 10 January, at the State Disaster Control Centre.

Record Extreme Rainfall Victoria

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Bri Macpherson said the first nine days of January had set the record for the wettest start to the year in Victoria since records began around 1900, according to the Age.

“If we had no further rainfall for the rest of January, this month would still be within the top 20 wettest Januaries that we have on record,” Macpherson said. “So [it’s] quite a significant event.”

The Daily rainfall to 9am 8 January in several sites in Central Victoria was at new record levels. Using an area average for rainfall to 9am 8 January, the Bureau of Meteorology estimated 5.4% of Victoria was at Highest on record for rainfall. 86.9%  of Victoria the rainfall was at > 97th percentile, and 66.4% at > 99th percentile.

The Victorian city of Bendigo had 91.8mm in the 24 hours to 9am on Monday: its wettest day in records dating back to 1863. Bendigo Prison rainfall record was 87.6mm on 28 Mar 1914. (Records 1862-1992) Bendigo Airport record was 66.4mm on 05 Feb 2011 (Records back to 1991)

Redesdale new daily rainfall record of 117.2mm. Previous January record was 78.6mm 14 Jan 2011, Previous all time record was 92.7 on 17 Feb 1972. (Records back to 1903)

Seymour Shire Depot new January daily rainfall record of 98mm. Highest previous January record was 57.2mm 18 Jan 1945. Highest record of 100.3 on 18 Mar 1950. (Records back to 1880)

Wallan (Kilmore Gap) new January daily rainfall record of 95.6mm. Previous record was 60mm on 29 Jan 1995. Highest on record is 111mm on 03 Feb 2005. (Records back to 1993)

Heathcote also set a new rainfall record of 154.4mm. 

Puckapanyal at 121.2mm. 

Yea at 88.4mm. 

We know that global heating is one of the factors driving more intense and frequent extreme rainfall.

Warmer atmosphere = increased moisture carrying capacity = higher rainfall intensity = increased frequency flash floods and riverine floods = increased damage to homes, businesses, roads = increased insurance premiums for all. 

So even those of us that may not be directly impacted, will probably bare some of the cost through insurance premiums. But other indirect costs may be loss of agricultural productivity, disruption to freight and logistics that can add to freight and fresh fruit and vegetable prices..

This is why we need to be ramping up mitigation of greenhouse gas pollution to slow future extreme weather impacts. We also need to be implementing climate adaptation in planning for more intense and frequent extreme weather. We need to get better at disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction.

Some of this will involve planning for buildings and infrastructure to make them more resilient to future climate and more extreme weather events. Ensuring good Dam management and levies are part of the solution. Restrictions on infrastructure on flood plains needs to be part of the planning process.

The towns of Yea, Seymour and Rochester have been affected this year, coming 15 months after the record floods in October 2022. But Flood levels are appearing to be below the 2022 flood levels with perhaps a few dozen houses impacted.  The flood peak will flow past  Murchison, Shepparton and Echuca and are likely to flood a  minimal number of houses and businesses. 

There have been 52 flood rescues since Sunday, predominantly people driving their cars into floodwaters over roads and being washed away, despite warnings by SES that cars can start floating in as little as 15 cm of water. 

Insurance Premiums will rise

Chris Rodd, an insurance mediator who has been involved in flood claims since the 1990s, told the Age that the cost of flood insurance in central Victorian towns regularly being struck by flood events would “go through the roof”. “It’s getting to the point that the [increased] frequency of these floods, which are inextricably linked to climate change, is going to create [two classes] of people: those who have insurance, and those who don’t.” Rodd said.

While Insurance Companies assess risk on a postcode level, there is often a level of cross-subsidisation by all premium payers. So all insurers will likely see premiums increased even if you don't live in a high risk suburb.

The extreme rain event was greater than Victoria

For 24 hour rainfall to 9am on 8th January, the following area averages:

Australia as a whole: 14.1% at > 97th percentile, 7.3% at > 99th percentile, and 0.5% at Highest on record. 

NSW: 51.2%  at > 97th percentile, 31.1% at > 99th percentile, and 2.0% at Highest on record.

Victoria:  86.9%  at > 97th percentile, 66.4% at > 99th percentile, and 5.4% at Highest on record.

Queensland :10.4%  at > 97th percentile, 4.1% at > 99th percentile, and 0.4% at Highest on record. 

South Australia: 14.5%  at > 97th percentile, 4.2% at > 99th percentile.

Tasmania: 73.1%  at > 97th percentile, 40.6% at > 99th percentile.

Northern Territory: 7.1%  at > 97th percentile, 0.9% at > 99th percentile.

Broken Hill in far west NSW set a new daily rain record on Sunday 7 January: 85mm recorded at the airport. The previous single-day January record of 75.2mm was set in 1961. Broken Hill averages 27.7mm of rain in January, its wettest month, and the annual average is about 225mm. Local flash flooding, power and telecoms outage occurred, but the rain was welcomed by pastoralists.

On 9th January ABC News reported: Over 130mm of rain recorded in three hours south-west of Brisbane, bringing worst flash flooding some locals have seen

Over New Years Eve, New Years Day Queensland's Gold Coast and scenic rim: More than 100mm of rain recorded in just two hours as Queensland's south-east struggles to catch a break from severe weather

On New Years Day ABC News reported for NSW Tweed Valley: Campers rescued as heavy rain and flooding hits northern New South Wales across New Year


ABC Melbourne, 8 January 2024, Victorian Premier visits flood affected areas of Central Victoria 

ABC Broken Hill, 8 January 2024, Broken Hill's January rainfall record smashed during 'unbelievable' storm

The Age, 10 January 2024, Relocation looms for homes in flood-hit towns where insurance is almost impossible

The Age, 10 January 2024, Wettest start to the year in history as PM pledges flood aid

General BOM Rainfall information :

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