Jan 24, 2020

Australia's weather has been super weird this week. Here's why.

by
Amanda Yeo
,
Mashable
Credit: State Government of Victoria via AP

Signals Summary: Climate change has increased the risk of bushfires in Australia through hotter temperaturesdrier conditions, and more frequent droughts


Article Excerpt: People all over the world had been hoping Australia would soon get enough rainfall to break its long, trying drought. Unprecedented bushfires have been ravaging the country for months, burning approximately 26 million acres, destroying over 2500 homes, and killing over 30 people. Experts estimate over one billion animals have died, with recovery expected to take decades.

The recent arrival of rain was therefore a welcome relief. While it wasn’t the extinguishing blanket Australians were hoping for, and in fact hindered some backburning efforts, the downpour has helped to put out or contain some fires. 

However, severe storms also created new, different problems, from flash flooding in Queensland to that destructive hail in Canberra. These conditions are a stark contrast to the bushfires and dry dust storms blowing across these same states, leaving many Australians to wonder what on earth is going on.

Yet according to Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Diana Eadie, the rain at least is fairly ordinary.

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Basically, Australians haven’t seen rain in so long that the sudden return to normalcy has been overwhelming.

“Australia is currently in its severe weather season, which is characterised by severe thunderstorms, fires, floods, and tropical cyclone activity,” said Eadie.

According to her, Australia’s recent weather is affected by both global warming and patterns in the surrounding ocean and atmosphere. “These climate drivers acted to not only enhance fire dangers, but also suppress the thunderstorm activity that we would normally expect to impact eastern parts of Australia during spring and summer.”

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While Australia's wild weather may seem apocalyptic, it's largely the dramatic contrasts that make it feel that way — though the size of the hail is admittedly unusual, the deluge of rain isn't a harbinger of doom. The bushfires and drought, however, may be another story.