NSW SES braces for storm season as La Nina chance rises | Ralph Lauren

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The chance of a second straight La Nina event this Aussie summer has risen after the weather bureau updated its modelling.

The NSW State Emergency Service has started preparing for a heightened risk of heavy rain and riverine and flash flooding during the upcoming storm season from October to March.

The likelihood of a busier season for volunteers increased on Tuesday when the weather bureau raised its assessment of a La Nina event occurring to 50 per cent.

It means the event is now about double the normal likelihood of happening.

“La Nina events increase the chances of above-average rainfall for northern and eastern Australia during spring and summer,” the bureau said.

“It is associated with cooler than average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.”

The bureau says La Nina occurs when equatorial trade winds become stronger, changing ocean surface currents and drawing cooler deep water up from below.

Camera IconSES respond to flood in Windsor, NSW in March this year. NCA NewsWire / Dylan Coker Credit: News Corp Australia

That results in a warming of ocean temperatures in the western Pacific, meaning the area becomes more favourable for rising air, cloud development and rainfall.

This year’s storm season is expected to bring similar conditions to what was experienced last season. NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York said that would mean severe weather, including heavy rain and riverine and flash flooding.

“During the previous storm season, we experienced major floods right across the state,” Ms York said.

Camera IconAn aerial view of Windsor in the western Sydney region where devastating floods hit earlier this year. NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard Credit: News Corp Australia

“In fact, it wasn’t long ago our volunteers responded to the major flooding event that overwhelmed communities across the Hawkesbury-Nepean, Hunter and Mid North Coast.

“That event alone saw us respond to more than 14,000 requests for assistance, including more than 1000 flood rescues.”

Ms York urged people to prepare for storms and floods seriously before the occur.

NSW SES has more than 10,000 volunteers across the state and about 4500 in locked-down Greater Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

But despite the Covid-19 outbreak, the agency has assured people they will still get help if and when they need it, as it has done for past 18 months.

“NSW SES is continuing to support its communities while taking every precaution to protect the health and wellbeing of those communities and its volunteers,” a spokesman said.

Ms York said the more people could do now to prepare, the less likely they would end up needing emergency assistance from volunteers when the weather events hit.

“From preparing an emergency evacuation kit, making sure your gutters and downpipes are clear, to planning for your animals, you can find all this information and more via ses.nsw.gov.au,” she said.


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