Waterfalls wind their way through windows, gardens and homes, and cars are swept away in central Sydney. Where there were pedestrian areas and streets, now motor boats run, and the water is meters high in some places. The flood of the century in eastern Australia has now hit one of the country’s largest cities in full force. Countless videos of horrific scenes can be found on the Internet, uploaded by unbelieving residents. Many are now forced to leave their homes and apartments, and tens of thousands have again been asked to reach safety in the city. Evacuation orders were issued for about 12 districts.
In Sydney it has been raining almost continuously for more than two weeks, and the rainfall has increased again in the last week. According to the German Weather Service (DWD), about 130 liters per square meter have fallen on the city in the past three days – as is usually the case throughout the rainy month of March. And the authorities announced, on Tuesday, that heavy rains led to new floods, especially in the southwest of the capital. Parts of the states of Queensland and New South Wales, where Sydney is located, have been converted into seascapes.
The rain has eased in Lismore, a small town 700 kilometers north of Sydney. As the water flows, the scale of the devastation slowly becomes apparent, which could also be hidden in other parts of the country: mountains of scrap and rubbish pile up in the streets, and, according to local media, all Lismore smells unpleasant. from mold and urine. Many homes may have become uninhabitable.
The images remind us of the floods in Germany in the summer of 2021, which killed more than 180 people. And in Australia, too, the flood has already claimed lives. It was only on Monday that a 67-year-old woman and her 34-year-old son were rescued from floods in Sydney, west of the city. According to the AAP news agency, 20 people have already died in Queensland and New South Wales. There is more bad news for Sydney as rain is expected to continue for the time being. “We have a tough 24 hours, or even 48,” media reports quoted the Bureau of Meteorology, which prepares weather forecasts for the Australian federal government, as saying. Forecasters warned of flash floods and a “very dangerous thunderstorm”.
Australia’s climate is becoming more extreme due to climate change
For Australia’s east coast, it’s the most devastating flood since weather records began – after several years of severe drought. In 2020, during the actual rainy season, there was a severe drought and, as a result, deadly wildfires and wildfires, the photos of which spread all over the world. Now comes the other end. But how does this flood happen? What is the relationship of the current situation with climate change?
Appeal to climate scientist Markus Zeiss from DWD. “There is a wide area of low atmospheric pressure over the area around Sydney and Queensland,” he explains. “So clouds can rise and fall very quickly. Plus, coastal mountains block them and build up.” But sea temperature also contributes to the tide. “The Pacific Ocean is especially warm right now, which means a large number of clouds can form,” Ziese says.
What seems like an unfortunate coincidence isn’t necessarily unexpected for a rainfall expert. Climate change cannot be used as an explanation in detail, but it does make such extreme weather conditions more likely. “Australia has an extreme climate, especially on the east coast, where heavy rains alternate with very hot dry phases throughout the year.” According to Ziese, the Australian climate will become more extreme due to climate change – with unforeseen consequences in the coming years.
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