After a year of record rain and flooding, east coast Australians have been told to brace themselves for a wet and cold summer as well, following news that La Nina is set to stick around into the new year.
Meteorological Bureau said in its long-term forecast on Thursday that any significant rainfall could lead to more widespread flooding over the summer. It pointed to an increased risk in the coastal areas around 23 January and 20 February, especially where unusually high tides are expected.
Much of NSW has been battling flooding for months. Significant rainfall in the Lachlan Basin earlier this month triggered record flooding in cities across the state’s Central Westincluding in Forbes, Condobolin and Eugowra.
The water in the swollen Lachlan River is now making its way downstream and into the Murray River. Residents of Mildura in north-west Victoria were asked to evacuate Thursday.
More than 30 people have died across Australia as a result of this year’s floods, mostly after driving into floodwaters, but people have also lost their lives after being trapped in their flooded homes, including in Lismore and Eugowra.
Hundreds of people remain homeless, including in Northern Rivers, nine months after it was destroyed by a record flood.
The bureau said the flood risk is not over. La Nina in the Pacific, warmer sea temperatures around Australia and a positive southern annular mode are to blame for the wet weather.
“In eastern Australia, any significant rainfall has the potential to lead to widespread flooding where rivers are already high, dams are full and catchments are wet,” it said.