North Queensland declared a ‘catastrophe’ after torrential rain
The Insurance Council of Australia has declared North Queensland a catastrophe as the region remains inundated after torrential rain
The region has been hammered by rough weather over the past four days, with more than 600mm of rain falling in some catchment areas during that period.
Innisfail residents have been warned to prepare to evacuate as river levels rise.
A group of students on school camp at the Echo Creek adventure park near Tully remain trapped by flood waters and have received an emergency airdrop of food, clothing and medical supplies.
ICA CEO Rob Whelan said the “catastrophe” declaration means insurers would now prioritise claims from people affected by floods and storm-related damage.
Disaster recovery specialists will be deployed to the worst-affected areas once roads reopened, while policyholders needing help can contact the ICA’s disaster hotline on 1800 734 621.
The state government has already declared a disaster situation in the region.
The declaration gives emergency services the powers they need to respond effectively to the flood.
Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk, who will travel to flood-affected regions on Sunday, said the full extent of the damage would not be known for weeks.
She said flooding would have a detrimental impact on banana and sugar cane crops, as well as the aquaculture industry.
“We will get the full assessments over the next few weeks about the impact on the economy and I think everyone should spare a thought for the farmers who are going to feel a huge impact,” she said.
Ms Palaszczuk said one parent and one child had been evacuated from the school camp at Tully for pre-existing medical reasons, but that police had
She said the group was otherwise happy and healthy.
“No one else wanted to leave, they wanted to remain there,” she said.
“They’re in good spirits and we are in regular contact with them.”
Flooding in Ingham, where more than 200 homes were inundated is easing, as the wet weather pushes further north to Cairns.
Major flood warnings remained in place for the Herbert, and Flinders rivers. Moderate and minor flood warnings were in place for many other rivers in the region.
Press link for more: SBS.COM.AU
This time last year North Queensland was hit with a catastrophic cyclone Debbie.
Cyclone Debbie by the numbers: How it compares with Cyclone Tracy, Marcia, Yasi and the others
By Felicity Caldwell
Updated29 March 2017 — 5:06pm
Cyclone Debbie had been predicted by some to be “bigger than Marcia”, the category 5 system that smashed Queensland in 2015, but while it failed to reach that level of severity, it certainly left a trail of devastation.
Debbie blew away the previous official recorded wind gust speed by more than 50km/h, with 263km/h gusts blasting Hamilton Island on Tuesday morning.
Previously, the highest wind gust recorded in Queensland was during Cyclone Marcia, on Middle Percy Island in 2015 of 208km/h.
So just how did Debbie measure up?
We’ve broken down the key facts on Debbie and how it compares with previous destructive cyclones.
How does Cyclone Debbie compare?
Debbie: Category 4 – maximum wind gusts recorded at 263km/h. Roofs lost, properties destroyed, trees felled, boats wrecked, heavy rain, flooding predicted, roads cut, 63,000 people without power.
Marcia (2015, central Queensland): Category 5 – maximum wind gusts recorded 208km/h, estimated 295km/h. Houses damaged, uprooted trees, downed power lines, storm surge, beach erosion, rainfall totals up to 300mm in 6-8 hours, flooding.
Yasi (2011, north Queensland): Category 5 – maximum wind gusts estimated 285km/h. Major property damage, banana crops destroyed, rainfall totals up to 471mm, storm surge.
Larry (2006, north Queensland): Category 4/5 – maximum wind gusts estimated 240km/h. Extensive damage to infrastructure and crops, with total loss estimated at half a billion dollars, about 10,000 houses damaged, flooding disrupted road and rail access for several days.
Orson (1989, Western Australia): Category 5 – Wind gusts of 249km/h recorded. Caused $20.9 million in damages in 1989 dollars, with damage to 70 per cent of homes in Pannawonica.
Tracy (1974, Darwin): Category 4 – maximum wind gusts recorded 217km/h. At least 65 people died, the majority of buildings in Darwin were destroyed or badly damaged, with the damage bill in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Debbie rainfall – 48 hours to 9am Wednesday
Hamilton Island – 242.4mm
Mackay – 227.6mm
Proserpine – 289.4mm – but the gauge broke at 2.42am
Bowen – 381.2mm
Moranbah – 120.8mm
Strongest wind recorded on Hamilton Island – wind gusts of 263km/h at 10.30am, the wind speed at the time was 183km/h.
Debbie featured the strongest gusts official recorded in Queensland.
The strongest wind gusts recorded in Australia were 267km/h in Western Australia in 1999 during Cyclone Vance.
Other cyclones have likely brought stronger winds, with highest estimated wind gusts, but they were not officially recorded.
Debbie has been downgraded to a tropical low but still carried sustained winds near the centre of 55km/h and wind gusts up to 120km/h.
At 5am (AEST) on Wednesday, the Bureau of Meteorology indicated the system was 100km south-west of Collinsville, and 125km north-west of Moranbah.
Weather to come
Debbie was expected to more south over the central interior of the state about 14 km/h.
Damaging winds and heavy rain would continue to lash the Central Coast, Whitsundays, Central Highlands and Coalfields districts on Wednesday.
Widespread falls of up to 250mm were expected, with flash flooding possible in areas including Mackay, Yeppoon and Emerald.
The Bureau of Meteorology was predicting heavy rain in the south-east Queensland corner from Thursday, easing on Friday.
Meteorologist Adam Blazak said there would likely be strong, gusty winds on the weekend around Moreton Bay, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, with temperatures set to drop.
Dam releases and totals
Queensland dams are being monitored closely by SunWater and Seqwater following Cyclone Debbie.
The weather bureau had issued a flood watch for coastal catchments between Ayr and the NSW border.
Dams in the Bowen and Mackay area were experiencing inflows and minor downstream flows, with significant increases in outflows likely within the next 72 hours.
With heavy rain predicted in south-east Queensland, Water Supply Minister Mark Bailey said operational releases from Somerset Dam to Wivenhoe Dam would be made on Wednesday to balance supply volumes, but it would not impact flooding downstream of Wivenhoe Dam.
Wivenhoe Dam and North Pine Dam were not releasing floodwater and were unlikely to do so in the next 24-36 hours.
South-east Queensland’s combined water storage capacity was at 71.7 per cent.
Wivenhoe Dam was at 67.9 per cent, Somerset Dam was 74.5 per cent and North Pine Dam was 51.5 per cent. The floodwater storage compartments at Wivenhoe Dam and Somerset Dam were fully available.
Ungated dams – Hinze Dam, Little Nerang Dam, Wyaralong Dam and Wappa Dam – were currently spilling.
Press link for more: Brisbane Times
Swiss Re sees income tumble in the face of natural catastrophes.
Insurance companies are struggling to cope with these catastrophic events which are now occurring much more frequently because of climate change.
20,000 scientists have written to governments around the world warning of such catastrophic events.
20,000 scientists give dire warning about the future in ‘letter to humanity’ – and the world is listening.
A dire warning to the world about its future, which predicts catastrophe for humanity, is continuing to gain momentum.
The letter – which was first released in November – has now been signed by around 20,000 scientists. And the world seems to be listening: it is now one of the most discussed pieces of scientific research ever, and its publishers claim it is now influencing policy.
The new letter was actually an update to a an original warning sent from the Union of Concerned Scientists that was backed by 1,700 signatures 25 years ago. It said that the world had changed dramatically since that warning was issued – and almost entirely for the worse.
Lisa Murray’s climate change photography
Mankind is still facing the existential threat of runaway consumption of limited resources by a rapidly growing population, they warned. And “scientists, media influencers and lay citizens” aren’t doing enough to fight against it, the letter read.
If the world doesn’t act soon, there will be catastrophic biodiversity loss and untold amounts of human misery, they wrote.
Now scientists have written a follow-up piece in which they argue scientists and economists need to switch their focus from encouraging growth to conserving the planet. “There are critical environmental limits to resource-dependent economic growth,” the authors state.
The original letter was signed by more than 15,000 scientists. But it has since been endorsed by a further 4,500 – taking the total to around 20,000 and giving further encouragement to scientists working to counteract the dangers highlighted in the letter.
The lead author of the warning letter and new response paper, ecology Professor William Ripple, from Oregon State University, said: “Our scientists’ warning to humanity has clearly struck a chord with both the global scientific community and the public.”
The publishers of the letter now say that the letter is the sixth most-discussed piece of research since Altmetric records, which track publications’ impact, began. It has prompted speeches in the Israeli Knesset and Canada’s BC Legislature.
Press link for more: Independent.co.uk
“The severe natural disasters of 2017 are not only loss events, they are above all human tragedies.”
Those were the sobering words of Swiss Re group CEO Christian Mumenthaler as he revealed the company’s annual results for 2017 which saw a significant fall in income – from US$3.6 billion in 2016 to just US$331 million this time around. For Mumenthaler, the fact that the company was able to achieve any positive income results in such difficult circumstances, however, was, in itself, an achievement.
“In times like these we demonstrate the critical role re/insurance plays in enabling people and economies to recover,” he elaborated. “I am proud that Swiss Re, also through our clients, will be supporting people and businesses affected with estimated payouts of US$4.7 billion. 2017 proved how our strategy to maintain a superior capital position and pursue disciplined underwriting continues to be the right approach.”
2017 was indeed dominated by natural catastrophes.
After Cyclone Debbie in March, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, along with the Mexican earthquakes and the wildfires in California and British Columbia, caused havoc in the third quarter.
All of these events left Swiss Re with US$4.7 billion in combined estimated claims from large catastrophes.
Overall, its property and casualty reinsurance division suffered a net loss of US$413 million, with US$3.7 billion in catastrophe insurance claims the largest contributor to that fall.
Its corporate solutions division also suffered a net loss of US$741 million, with catastrophes again accounting for US$1 billion in claims.
Press link for more: Insurance business