Australia Sees Worst Floods in 60 Years
Multiple days of torrential rain across southeastern Australia led to record-breaking flooding in the region. Roughly 40,000 people were forced to evacuate homes in areas of Queensland and New South Wales as dams spilled over and rivers overflowed.
At least two deaths were reported, with the bodies recovered from flooded vehicles, according to a report from NPR.
The massive floods along both the coastal and inland parts of the area have also inundated homes and isolated smaller towns, while impacting farmers who are dealing with stranded or lost livestock and crops, displacing other species as well, including hordes of spiders.
#Australia's floods have raised the risk of deadly toxic #spiders escaping from forests in search of a safe haven in homes in Sydney. pic.twitter.com/SuXHTzPMwx— Forbes Middle East (@Forbes_MENA_) March 25, 2021
According to Reuters, these floods are the worst to hit the region in the past 60 years.
According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the rainfall and flooding occurred as two major weather systems collided over the area. One region in New South Wales experienced nearly 40 inches of rain in a week, which according to the bureau, exceeded the average expected rainfall for the entire season. An area in Queensland also saw more than 20 inches of rainfall in a single day, and other parts around Sydney and in Hunter and MidCoast received 16 to 24 inches of rain over the course of four days, NASA’s Earth Observatory reported.
“Water levels rose to major flood levels along the Clarence, Gwydir, Mehi, Lower Hunter, Manning, and Colo rivers, among others,” according to the Earth Observatory report.
Many areas across #NSW currently resemble an inland sea. Once the rain stops & the water begins to reside, there will be a massive combined effort to clean up. However until that happens, listen to warnings, follow the @NSWSES advice, look out for family, friends & neighbours. pic.twitter.com/vhDqxkw40E— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) March 22, 2021
The BBC reported that Sydney’s largest dam, the Warragamba Dam, which lies on the city’s western outskirts, has been overflowing since 20 March. Daily spillage from the dam during the flooding is estimated to have been equivalent to the volume of water in the Sydney Harbour. Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned that the dam is expected to continue overflowing for at least another week, which could threaten heavily populated areas.
Many of the flooded areas were previously impacted by wildfires during Australia’s landmark bushfire season between 2019 and 2020.
According to the Earth Observatory, areas scarred by wildfires are prone to producing more runoff during extreme rains “because the heat from fires reduces the capacity of the soil to absorb and hold on to water. Furthermore, fire strips away plants and trees that could intercept raindrops before they reach the ground.”
According to Yahoo News, the country’s peak insurance body estimates damage claims to be around $193 million.