Experts warn severe weather on the increase

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Severe weather map

The weather outlook for the 6 months ahead from the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) serves as a warning. Don't delay, start preparing now.

Floods

Australia has experienced the second wettest winter on record, and predictions for the remainder of 2016 is for average to above-average rainfall. This means there is likely be a heightened flood risk, particularly across eastern Australia. This higher moisture content in the atmosphere also means a predicted increase in thunderstorm activity over inland Australia and along the Great Dividing Range, also adding to the flood risk.

Bushfires

Despite the wet weather, Australia has also been experiencing higher than average temperatures through 2016. This is adding to the fuel load with concerns Australia is facing an above-average bushfire season.

Cyclones

Last year Australia experienced a mild cyclone season with three cyclones, only one of which crossed the coastline. Driven by the La Nina-like temperatures in the Pacific Ocean and the warmer seas to the north of Australia and in the Eastern Indian Ocean, the BoM predicts that an above-average number of tropical cyclones will develop in the Australian region.

Beware the Consequences

For communities exposed to the impact of a natural disaster – such as a bushfire or cyclone – it is critical to prepare, and prepare early. Failure to do so could result in devastating consequences.

Australia's more recent natural disaster history, events such as the Black Saturday fires, Tropical Cyclone Yasi and the 2015 Queensland floods, puts us right on track with projections made in the Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007).

The report predicts that by 2050, Australia is likely to experience an increase in the severity and frequency of bushfires, storms and coastal flooding. Australians living in bushfire, cyclone or flood prone areas can't afford to ignore the statistics.

Preparing now for this year's bushfire and cyclone season will be imperative for the safety and welfare of your members and organisation.  Spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Australia, Mr Campbell Fuller strongly advises that organisations make certain they are adequately insured.

When a bushfire or cyclone impacts a community, "underinsurance is one of the biggest risk factors and major causes of severe financial distress" claims Fuller.  

Though we can't stop cyclones or storms from developing, it's possible to minimise their impact. The aim is to minimise the damage they cause initially, and then to recover sooner.

Steps you can take to protect your organisation

Preparing for Cyclones and Flooding

The best way to manage the risk of cyclones and flooding is to have a plan in place well before a cyclone or severe storm system hits. Cyclones and storms can develop over days or even weeks, but flooding can occur suddenly. Either way, the window to consider and enact your risk management plan is small, making it critical to develop and test your plans well before the danger is present. Even after extended periods of dry conditions, in a flood zone things can change very quickly.

Use our Surviving a Cyclone Factsheet and our Surviving Flood Factsheet to prepare for cyclone season. These Factsheets will guide you through the four key stages of 'understanding the risks', 'developing emergency plans', 'communication and training' and 'monitoring and review'.

After reading our Factsheets, you can use our Preparing for a Cyclone Checklist and our Preparing for Flood Checklist to assess how you are currently prepared for these risks.

Preparing for Bushfires

As with cyclones, early preparation for bushfires is key. The best way to manage the risk of bushfires is to develop your plans before bushfire season begins. If you don't currently have a bushfire emergency plan in place, consider developing one now.

When developing your plan, start by considering your organisation's unique set of risks. Having a clear understanding about your organisation's risks will help minimise the potential impact of an event such as a bushfire.

Once you're familiar with the risks, start developing your emergency plan. When drawing up your plan, involve as many stakeholders as possible – this will ensure all safety procedures will be covered.

Make sure to train your employees, students, volunteers and contractors so that everyone understands the emergency plan and their roles and responsibilities if bushfire were to occur.

Lastly, never become complacent with your emergency plan – regular monitoring and reviewing will ensure all details, including resources are up-to-date.

Having an emergency plan in place will make it easier for your organisation to ensure the safety of people, minimise losses, maintain business continuity and get back to delivering services and achieving your mission sooner.

Our Surviving Bushfire Factsheet can help you develop a bushfire emergency plan, whilst our Preparing for Bushfire Checklist will ask you important questions that can help you assess and improve your current risk controls.

Like to know more?

CCI has a number of useful Services and Resources on this and many other topics available on this website or by calling the Risksupport Helpdesk on 1300 660 827.

They include:

​​​Business Continuity Fact Sheet

Business Continuity Management

Contact your CCI Account Executive on 1800 011 028 if you have any concerns you would like to discuss in further detail.


 

References:

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/cyclones/australia/ viewed November 3 2016.

http://insurancenews.com.au/local/severe-fire-season-forecast-for-nsw-victoria viewed November 3 2016.

http://www.ga.gov.au/corporate_data/65444/65444.pdf viewed October 18 2015.

https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/publications_ipcc_fourth_assessment_report_synthesis_report.htm viewed October 18 2015.

http://www.bnhcrc.com.au/hazardnotes/019 viewed November 3 2016.

http://www.bnhcrc.com.au/hazardnotes/18 viewed November 3 2016.


Posted: 7 November 2016

Topic: Natural Disasters

 Related items

 

 

Preparing for a Cyclone Checklisthttp://risksupport.org.au/preparing-for-a-cyclone-checklistPreparing for a Cyclone Checklist
Surviving Bushfire Checklisthttp://risksupport.org.au/surviving-bushfire-checklistSurviving Bushfire Checklist
Surviving a Cyclone Fact Sheethttp://risksupport.org.au/surviving-a-cyclone-fact-sheetSurviving a Cyclone Fact Sheet

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