Category Archives: The New Normal

The new normal: Europe hasn’t seen flooding this bad since the middle ages (you read that correct)

The River Danube flooding (Austria):

danube_floodwall

…welcome to the Anthropocene and the new normal.

Dr. Jeff Masters:

A historic multi-billion dollar flood disaster has killed at least eighteen people in Central Europe after record flooding unprecedented since the Middle Ages hit major rivers in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Slovakia over the past two weeks. The Danube River in Passau, Germany hit the highest level since 1501, and the Saale River in Halle, Germany was the highest in its 400-year period of record.

Numerous cities recorded their highest flood waters in more than a century, although in some locations the great flood of 2002 was higher. The Danube is expected to crest in Hungary’s capital city of Budapest on June 10 at the highest flood level on record, 35 cm higher than the record set in 2006. The flooding was caused by torrential rains that fell on already wet soils.

In a 2-day period from May 30 – June 1, portions of Austria received the amount of rain that normally falls in two-and-half months: 150 to 200 mm (5.9 to 7.9″), with isolated regions experiencing 250 mm (9.8″). This two-day rain event had a greater than 1-in-100 year recurrence interval, according to the Austrian Meteorological Agency, ZAMG. 

Prior to the late May rains, Austria had its seventh wettest spring in 150 years, which had resulted in the ground in the region becoming saturated, leading to greater runoff when the rains began.

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The New Normal: drought grips Queensland and WA, record making heat continues across continent

While we’re not feeling the heat like we did over the Angry Summer, Australia’s record-breaking heat wave actually hasn’t stopped:

Australia’s year of extreme weather is continuing as Sydney enjoys its longest late-season hot spell in 26 years, inland temperature records tumble and regions around Perth prepare for a cyclonic-strength storm.

The Harbour City is 17 days into its stretch of 20-degree or warmer days, with seven more days of such weather possible, said Brett Dutschke, senior meteorologist for Weatherzone.

Only once in 150 years of records – in 1987 – has the city had such warm conditions lasting this long this late in the year, Dr Dutschke said.

Many other regions have been experiencing unseasonably warm weather this month, with more to come. Melbourne, for instance, can expect five days of 20 degrees or warmer days, starting Wednesday.

Adelaide, meanwhile, may get five days of 25 degrees or hotter conditions starting today, a spell not seen this late in a year since 1921, Dr Dutschke said.

Australia has experienced a string of heatwaves, roughly six weeks apart, for the past half-year or longer, climate experts at the Bureau of Meteorology say.

Those hot spells produced the hottest month on record, the hottest summer and a blitz of other national heat records.

Five of the bureau’s 112 long-term weather sites have already registered all-time May records, with towns such as Alice Springs in the middle of what forecasters expect will be the longest run of 30-degree or hotter days.

“It’s a lack of strong cold frontal systems pushing cold air into the continent,” Blair Trewin, senior climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, said. “Most of the fronts that are occurring are being deflected south of the continent.

“We are clearly going to be a long, long way above average [for the month], nationally, as of the 11th to 12th of May.”

In addition to the warmth, “huge swathes of the country have had no rain this month”, he said.

A third of Queensland has already been declared in drought conditions and many parts of south-eastern Australia are recording rainfall far below average for the crucial crop-planting season.

The records to fall include some beyond the shores. Sea-surface temperatures along almost all of the southern coastal, for instance, and around most of Tasmania were the highest on record in the first four months of 2013, the weather bureau said.

The Australian Financial Review (not the most left leaning paper) reports large parts of WA are caught in the grip of a drought suffering the effects of – wait for it – climate change

Melbourne’s exceptional heatwave and climate change: this ain’t the weather your grandparents knew

St.Kilda Beach in the 1930s: when life was simpler, and the planet cooler

St.Kilda Beach in the 1930s: when life was simpler, and the planet cooler*

Melbourne is famous for its extremes of weather. As the old Crowded House song so beautifully put it, to live in Melbourne is to experience Four Seasons in One Day

We’re accustomed to blistering summers and bone-chilling winters. Less familiar are blistering Autumns.

For those who didn’t know, Melbourne is in the midst of a record-breaking heat-wave that has seen the temperature stay above 30 degrees Celsius for eight days now.

Nor is there any relief in sight; according to the Bureau of Meteorology we can expect at least two more days and nights of extreme heat.

This will surpass the previous record of seven days set in February 1961.

The remarkable fact is that we’re officially in Autumn.

According to the Country Fire Authority (CFA), by Wednesday the entire state will be exposed to some risk of bush or grass fires. Areas marked blue denote areas of high fire danger, those coded yellow pertain to areas of very high fire danger:

CFA update

CFA update for Wednesday 13/3/2013

Without doubt we’re entering a new climate regime:

Future warming of the climate due to greenhouse gas emissions will very likely lead to further increases in the frequency of unusually hot days and nights and continued declines in unusually cold days and nights.

These changes will result in weather events which are increasingly beyond our prior experiences.

The climate denial crowd will try to tell you “It’s just weather!”

Or they’ll claim it was just as hot fifty, seventy or one hundred years ago. 

There may have been some hot days – but this heatwave ain’t nothing our grandparents, or our great-grand parents ever experienced.

The world has warmed during the last 150 years: the present heat wave is a harbinger of future extremes.

Welcome to the Anthropocene.

 

*Source: Museum of Victoria

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The new normal: Fires come close to Melbourne, fire plume visable from city

Source: The Age

Source: The Age

This is extraordinary:

AT LEAST one home was destroyed and frightened residents and workers fled as a fast-moving fire came close to Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs. 

The grassfire became an out of control blaze, burning more than 2000 hectares as it headed south from Donnybrook towards urban Epping and Campbellfield. 

More than 600 firefighters in 120 trucks came from across Victoria to battle the flames on a hot and gusty day. They were supported by 11 waterbombing aircraft.

You can see the smoke from the city centre, this time-lapse video shows the fire plume:

 

 

 

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Video: Climate change and the Queensland floods

Here is Video Dispatch #2 looking at the devastating Queensland floods and their connection to climate change:

The video also explores what Queenslander’s can expect with as the planet warms: climate change is here. We are going to see many more events such as these.

Donations for the flood appeal can be made via the Red Cross. There may come a time when anyone of us will be a victim of these kinds of extremes. Sadly, donations to help the victims of the flood have been critically low:

THE head of Queensland’s flood appeal says donations are so low they won’t go anywhere near helping those who have lost all their possessions. Terry Mackenroth said only $6 million had been raised, including $1 million each from the state and federal governments. ”For the amount of devastation I’ve seen just through watching television, it is not going to go anywhere near paying the sorts of claims we will receive,” he said. ”When someone’s house has been flooded, they probably don’t even have a toothbrush. They’ve lost everything.”

Please donate if can. 

Mike @ WtD

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Climate change blamed for Australia’s extreme weather

From New Scientist:

The east coast of Australia has been drenched by floods and torrential rains, even as recent bush fires affecting much of the country continued to burn. Four people are known to have died as Australians get a further taste of extreme weather that is predicted to become more common as the planet warms. 

The deluge came as a storm that started as tropical cyclone Oswald just north of Australia was dragged south over most of the east coast by a low-pressure system extending all the way to New South Wales, says Richard Wardle of the Bureau of Meteorology in Queensland. As it hit land, Oswald lost its cyclone status but remained a “vigorous” storm, Wardle says. 

With no low-pressure zone further east to pull Oswald out to sea, the storm stayed over land, moving slowly south and dumping huge amounts of rain on coastal communities. Bundaberg, a town in Queensland, experienced its worst-ever flood as the storm lingered nearby for nearly 24 hours, leading to the evacuation of 7500 people from their homes. In Brisbane, the floods were almost as bad as those that devastated the city two years ago.

 

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The New Normal: BOM predicting temperatures to reach >50c next week (but now revised downward)

The BOM maps showing Australia awash with red were scary enough. But it’s going to get worse. Much worse:

BADKOHeCMAAfpC5

Update: BOM has revised their estimates. It would be remiss of me not to mention that – however, the predictions are still looking grim.

Tasmanian fires: update

There have also been fires in South Australia:

Insurers have declared the fires a catastrophe:

Insurers have declared the bushfire-hit towns of southern Tasmania a catastrophe.

Fires have destroyed dozens of buildings across the Tasman Peninsula, east of Hobart, spurred on by record high temperatures.

With fires still threatening homes in the region on Saturday, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) declared the affected towns a catastrophe, and created an industry task force to respond to the damage.

Here is what the ICA said:

The bushfire-hit Forcett and Dunalley zone of south-east Tasmania was today formally declared a catastrophe by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA). 

The declaration initially covers the worst-affected areas of Forcett, Dunalley, Copping and Murdunna, and also includes Connellys Marsh, Boomer Bay, Primrose Sands, Susans Bay, Eaglehawk Neck and Taranna. 

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said the catastrophe declaration meant insurers had established a taskforce to escalate the industry’s response. 

He said the ICA would seek to ensure policyholders in bushfire-affected communities received the help they might need as quickly as possible 

“It is much too early for the ICA to estimate the cost and extent of the damage, though we have had reports of several dozen homes having been badly damaged or destoyed,” Mr Whelan said.

My thoughts are with the communities impacted by these fires – thankfully we did not see a repeat of the Black Saturday fires.

“Catastrophic” Tasmanian fires; reports of one dead, 80 homes lost

Raw video footage:

From WA Today:

AT LEAST 80 homes have been lost and one man is feared killed by a bushfire that swept down onto the eastern Tasmanian town of Dunalley in catastrophic conditions. The bushfire sent hundreds fleeing and was on Friday night still burning down the Tasman Peninsula, taking more properties as it went. 

The man, a local resident, was last seen by a fire crew attempting to save his house as they were forced to shelter in their vehicle when the fire burnt over them, acting police commissioner Scott Tilyard said.

Extraordinary events, with people fleeing to the sea in order to be rescued:

The Dunalley fire began on Thursday in bushland about 20 kilometres to the north-west of the town and swept out of containment lines on Friday afternoon fanned by strong winds.

It was burning to the sea at several points and also had taken properties at Connolly’s Marsh and Murdunna, local reports said.

Acting Premier Bryan Green said the state government was preparing emergency accommodation, with a report that 600 people were sheltering at one refuge site.

”This has been an extraordinary day,” Mr Green said.

He said around 50 people were awaiting the arrival of police boats to help them leave the waterfront near the top of the Tasman Peninsula where they had taken refuge.

The Tasman Peninsula, including the popular Port Arthur tourist destination, was completely cut off by the closure of the major Arthur Highway.

About 600 people were taking refuge at temporary accommodation at Nubeena and 1500 people were reported to have visited the Port Arthur convict ruins on Friday.

The ABC has a live blog covering the event:

Fires outside Hobart (Source: ABC)

The new normal (part 29): heat wave covering most of Australia

I’ll be doing my best to stay cool, Friday is expected to be a scorcher. It is worth noting just how abnormal this is:

”We have a major heat event under way,” Karl Braganza, manager of climate monitoring at the Bureau of Meteorology, said. ”There are not many instances in the historical record where you get a heat event covering such a large area of the continent.” 

Brett Dutschke, senior meteorologist at Weatherzone, said it was unusual to have so prolonged a hot spell. ”It’s a once-in-20 or 30-year heatwave event in desert areas,” he said. ”More populated areas further south … are going to experience some of this as well.” 

The mercury is forecast to hit 36 degrees in Melbourne on Thursday and 41 degrees of Friday, with temperatures also soaring in Canberra although Sydney will largely be spared. Adelaide will swelter in 39-degree heat today and 42 tomorrow, the bureau predicts, while even Hobart will experience 32-degree and 38-degree maximums over the two days.

I’d recommend the BOM website for updates.

Expect to see temperature records tumble this summer.

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