Related - Floodplain Manager December 2021 to January 2022

Thirty Year Flood Record Smashed as Inglewood Residents Evacuate to Cemetery

Widespread heavy rainfall in south-eastern Queensland forced the evacuation of 900 residents from Inglewood.

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The town, located on an inner bend of the Macintyre Brook, was already facing a major flood warning when 90 mm of rain fell within an hour, exceeding a 0.5% AEP rainfall event. With flood waters likely to impact the entire town, 900 residents were evacuated to the cemetery south-east of town where they had little option but to shelter in their cars overnight. Flood waters rose swiftly to peak at 11.2 m early in the morning of 1 December 2021, smashing a thirty-year flood record of 10.5 m set in 1988. Downstream, 200 residents were also evacuated from Yelarbon, while at Yalangur to the north of Toowoomba a man died when his ute was swept into the flooded Oakey Creek.

(Read more here, here and here) 

Brisbane Woman Dies When Car Swept Away by Floodwaters During December Flooding

Severe storms in south-east Queensland flooded the Hungry Jack’s car park in Aspley, sweeping a car into Cabbage Tree Creek.

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A sudden burst of rainfall on 9 December caused the creek to break its banks and flood part of the fast-food restaurant’s car park. A 52 year-old male driver attempted to exit the car park by driving through flood waters, but the car lost traction and was washed away down the creek. The driver was able to free himself, but his 44 year-old female passenger remained trapped in the vehicle and drowned. Brisbane, Logan and the Gold Coast were all battered by severe storms in mid-December and the town of Samford, north of Brisbane, received 61 mm of rain within a period of half an hour, a 2% AEP rainfall event.

(Read more here).

December Flooding in Southeast NSW Claims Woman’s Life

A 37 year-old woman died when she was swept downstream by floodwaters in Tuross.

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On 10 December a car became trapped in flood waters from a local creek caused by recent heavy rainfall on Tuross Road in the Monaro region. The male occupant remained within the vehicle and was uninjured when emergency services located him several hours later. However, the woman exited the car and was swept downstream by the flood waters. Heavy rainfall also caused flash flooding on the coast at Mogo, where up to 200 mm of rain fell overnight (a 5% to 2% AEP rainfall event) and flooded much of the town, which is still recovering from the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfire season.

(Read more here, here and here).

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Seth Floods Mary River Catchment in Southeast Queensland

Slow-moving storms from Ex-Tropical Cyclone Seth brought major flooding to the Mary River in mid-January, claiming three lives.

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Storms drenched the Gympie region with 650 mm of rain in a 24-hour period (exceeding a 0.05% AEP rainfall event), with rainfall most intense between Gympie and Tiaro. The Mary River swelled, resulting in moderate flooding at Gympie and major flooding at both Miva and Tiaro. A vehicle became trapped in floodwaters at Booubyjan near Gympie on 8 January, with a father and daughter managing to exit the vehicle before it was swept away. The father was later found clinging to a tree, but tragically the 14 year-old girl still has not been located. At Kanigan, a 22 year-old man drowned inside his ute after it had been swept off Cherry Tree Road and had become submerged in flood waters. A 52 year-old man also drowned in the Mary River in Tiaro after the tinnie that he was driving with his family capsized. His family were rescued from the river.

Downstream at Maryborough, an underground stormwater valve failed beneath the town’s levee on 9 January, allowing floodwaters to bypass the levee and infiltrate the CBD up through the drains and triggering the hasty evacuation of 30 city blocks, including many businesses. Major flooding in the town peaked at just below 10 m. Twelve pumps brought in after the levee system failure successfully limited damage to the CBD. In all, approximately 100 homes and 40 businesses were inundated in Maryborough.

(Read more here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here).

Flash Flooding Hits Central NSW

A sudden storm brought nearly a month’s worth of rain and flash flooding to Lithgow on 12 January.

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The severe thunderstorm dumped 72 mm of rain on Lithgow in just over half an hour, which exceeds a 1% AEP rainfall event for the town. Coming less than 24 hours after an earlier storm, the thunderstorm generated flash flooding that swept through the town, catching locals by surprise and damaging at least 45 homes and businesses. Sporting fields, car parks and roads were inundated and damaged. No injuries were reported, but one man was rescued from his car by a council worker who happened to be driving a tractor at the time.

(Read more here and here).

Outback Floodwaters Wash Away Roads in South Australia

A major emergency was declared in South Australia as heavy rainfall caused widespread flooding in the north and west of the state.

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The high moisture remnants of Tropical Cyclone Tiffany, which brought intense rainfall to the Top End from 12 January, produced rain and thunderstorms in South Australia from the 22 January in a 0.5% AEP event. Several towns on the Eyre Peninsula received rainfall exceeding 160 mm in a 24-hour period and widespread high rainfall produced outback floodwaters, inundating several highways and cutting freight routes. There was damage and disruptions to both road and rail networks connecting South Australia with Western Australia and the Northern Territory, leading to shortages in supermarkets in both these regions. A section of the Olympic Dam Highway between Pimba and Woomera was entirely eroded, cutting access along the road. The SES was called out to rescue many people trapped by floodwaters, including one man who had attempted to cross a flooded creek before his car was swept 80 metres downstream. The car became wedged against a gum tree and the driver was able to climb onto the roof of his vehicle before being rescued 4 hours later.

(Read more here, here and here).

Residents Rescued from their Cars in Melbourne Flash Floods

Intense rainfall brought flooding and hail to Melbourne suburbs in late January. 

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Following several days of severe storms across Victoria, thunderstorms made their patchwork way across Melbourne, flooding some suburbs and barely affecting others. In the suburb of Springvale, 35 mm of rain fell in just 30 minutes, which is somewhere between a 2% to 1% AEP rainfall event for the suburb. The SES rescued 10 to 15 people who had attempted to drive in flood waters and became trapped, with one car ending up in Elwood Canal. The ground floor of the Chadstone Shopping Centre was inundated with ankle-deep flood waters. The series of thunderstorms in Victoria knocked out power to thousands of people across the state.

(Read more here).

Monsoon Trough Brings Floods to the Kimberley

A tropical low brought high rainfall and floods to the Kimberley in late January, flooding Broome streets.

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The town was bombarded by 66 mm of rain in 30 minutes (a 5% to 2% AEP rainfall event), followed by another 80 mm in the space of an hour. No significant damage was reported, although some cars became trapped by flood waters. Inland, the Bureau of Meteorology issued moderate flood warnings for both the Fitzroy and Margaret Rivers. Flood waters along these rivers inundated part of the Great Northern Highway between Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek, cutting road access between the East and West Kimberley.

(Read more here and here).

State Officials Conclude Warragamba Dam EIS Inadequately Addresses Heritage Impacts

NSW state agencies have criticised the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the state government’s plan to provide flood mitigation capacity at Warragamba Dam.

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The EIS was placed on public exhibition late last year and public submissions have now been released by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. Of the 2,067 submissions released, 1,930 objected to the EIS, largely due to concerns regarding impacts on biodiversity, the world heritage area and cultural heritage sites. The submissions made by the government’s Environment, Energy and Science Group (EES) and Heritage NSW criticise the EIS for inadequately assessing the natural and cultural values of the Greater Blue Mountains world heritage area. The EES submission states that the EIS contains minimal assessment of the potential impact on aquatic ecology in areas upstream of the dam that would potentially be inundated during floods, while several fauna species were not considered and both bats and amphibians were inadequately surveyed. The Heritage NSW submission criticised the EIS for not adequately considering Aboriginal community knowledge and concerns when assessing the impact on cultural heritage sites and for incorrectly excluding Aboriginal heritage when considering the world heritage values of the impacted area.

(Read more here, here and here).

More Resilient Housing Doesn’t Need to Cost a Lot More

Researchers and architects have collaborated to demonstrate that houses can be built with greater resilience to natural hazards at little additional cost.

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While existing building codes are designed to minimise damage resulting from natural hazard events, they only provide a minimum standard and do not protect homes from the most extreme weather events. However, with climate change these extremes events are likely to occur more often. A collaboration between James Cook University, CSIRO and Room11 Architects, funded by Suncorp, has produced a prototype home using the One House concept. The One House is a resilient home designed to withstand extreme weather events such as cyclones, bushfires, floods and severe storms, but is also designed to be liveable and easy to maintain. Crucially, the construction cost of the One House has been kept comparative to the cost of building any standard architecturally designed home.

(Read more here and here).

New Nationally Consistent Flood Messaging

A set of 26 nationally consistent Community Service Announcements (CSAs) has been developed to communicate flood and storm risk.

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Although a set of CSAs already existed, they were not nationally consistent and could not be used in all states and territories. Recent research by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC into flood risk communication provided an opportunity to develop nationally consistent messaging with the input of the Bureau of Meteorology and State Emergency Services from all states and territories. Endorsed by the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC), the new CSAs will be broadcast on ABC Radio before, during and after severe storms and floods to communicate with impacted communities and to discourage people from making risky choices.

(Read more here and here).

Locals Worried Newell Highway Upgrade is Impacting Floodplain Function and Ecology

Residents along the Newell Highway near Goondiwindi are concerned that recent upgrades to the highway are impacting floodwater hydrology.

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The Newell Highway was upgraded and reopened in April 2021, with the road raised to improve its flood immunity. While the project placed new drains in the same locations as the previous drains to minimise impact on water flow between the two sides of the highway, locals are concerned that the new causeways and culverts do not have sufficient capacity and the highway is impeding floodwaters. These floodwaters have a significant impact on the ecology of the surrounding agricultural land, recharging the soil with nutrients and moisture. Reduced flooding on the western side of the highway has the potential to reduce the productivity of that land.

(Read more here).

Floodplain Harvesting Reform in the Murray-Darling Basin

An upper house committee report has called for further research to be conducted before the NSW government introduces licensing for floodplain harvesting.

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Floodplain harvesting is the practice of using structures, such as levees, channels and storage areas, to capture water from small floods as the flood waters move across floodplains towards the river. This prevents large volumes of water from reaching the river and can reduce the volume of water available for downstream users. At present the practice is widespread and does not require a licence in NSW. However, the NSW government is planning on issuing free licences for structures approved prior to 1994, whilst capping future floodplain harvesting. The Floodplain Harvesting Select Committee of the NSW Upper House has urged that more research be conducted into the current extent and economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts of the practice before entitlements are allocated in order to avoid over-allocation. This research, and the development of improved monitoring infrastructure, would likely delay the introduction of the licensing scheme.

(Read more here, here and here).

FMA February Quarterly Meetings and Workshops to be Held Online

The upcoming FMA Quarterly Meeting and FMA workshops that had been scheduled for Brisbane and Sydney in February 2022 will now be held online on Thursday 17 February.

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Due to the uncertainties regarding travel and mingling brought about by the current Omicron outbreak, the meetings have been moved to an online setting.

(Read more here).

Eruption of Tonga Volcano Triggers Tsunami

A tsunami generated by the eruption of a seamount (underwater volcano) caused devastation in Tonga and impacted coastlines around the Pacific.

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On 15 January, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, located to the west of the Tongan archipelago, erupted explosively in a 1 in 1,000 year event. The shock waves and caldera collapse caused by the eruption generated a tsunami that battered Tonga and had varying impacts across the Pacific. The tiny islands of Nomuka, Fonoifua and Mango bore the brunt of the tsunami, enduring waves up to 15 m high. The settlement on Mango Island, which is only 70 km from the seamount, was swept away and residents have been evacuated to Nomuka. On Fonoifua, only two homes remain standing, although residents decided to remain on the island rather than evacuate. Half of the homes on Nomuka were washed away, as was the local health facility. On Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, tsunami waves with a height of 1.19 m were recorded before the gauge stopped reporting. Three fatalities were reported across Tonga, while the tsunami knocked out power and the eruption damaged a submarine cable, knocking out communications between islands and internationally. Coastlines around the Pacific were impacted by tsunami waves, including New Zealand, the US west coast, Japan, Fiji and Vanuatu, with some coastal inundation generated by the waves. Two people drowned in the high waves that impacted the coast of the Peruvian district Lambayeque. A marine tsunami warning was issued for the south-eastern coast of Australia, with tsunami waves of up to 0.82 m recorded at the Gold Coast.

(Read more here).

Severe Coastal Flooding in Western Equatorial Pacific as La Niña Raises Sea Level

Over summer, La Niña has raised sea levels in the western equatorial Pacific by up to 20 cm, providing a glimpse into the future.

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Islands in the western Pacific have experienced severe coastal flooding due to the cumulative impacts of spring tides, sea level rise and La Niña. However, the magnitude of this year’s spring tides is not unusually high and while the impacts of sea level rise are significant over decades, they are incremental on an annual scale. Therefore, La Niña is largely responsible for the majority of the 15-20 cm increase in sea levels over summer, a sea level that will become commonplace by 2050 with the unavoidable effects of climate change. During La Niña events strong easterly trade winds produce a build-up of warm water in the western equatorial Pacific. As warmer waters have lower density and take up a larger volume than cold water, La Niña often produces higher sea levels in the western Pacific.

(Read more here).

Sea Level Rise Increasing the Vulnerability of Coastal Communities to Tsunamis

New research shows that sea level rise is set to make coastal areas more vulnerable to tsunamis generated by lower magnitude earthquakes.

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US researchers have combined numerical modelling of distant-source tsunamis with potential scenarios of future sea level rise to determine the impact climate change will have on tsunami wave heights. The study found that significant tsunami wave heights will be able to be generated by lower magnitude earthquakes in the future due to sea level rise, exacerbating the vulnerability of coastal areas to tsunamis.

(Read more here).

The Relationship Between Atmospheric Rivers and High-Tide Flooding

A new study suggests that atmospheric rivers can contribute to high-tide flood events.

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Atmospheric rivers are bands of moisture that tend to travel through the troposphere at the leading edge of large low-pressure systems. A team of researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in the US studied 36 years of meteorological data along the West Coast of North America to assess the frequency of concurrence between atmospheric rivers making landfall and high-tide flooding. The study found that high-tide floods, which are recurring minor floods that can inundate streets and infrastructure in coastal towns, are the culmination of several factors, of which the presence of an atmospheric river is significant. Other factors include storm surges, high lunar tides and higher sea levels due to oceanic and atmospheric phenomena, such as the El Niño–Southern Oscillation.

(Read more here).

Improving Real-Time Flood Hazard Modelling for Coastal Regions

A new methodology has been developed for undertaking rapid coastal flood hazard mapping with improved accuracy.

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Traditionally, hydrodynamic models have been used for flood hazard mapping in coastal areas, but these require long run times and a large amount of computational power. These models are therefore of limited use to emergency responders required to make prompt decisions. An alternate method of rapid flood hazard assessment called HAND is used for inland areas, but this method is sensitive to topography and has low accuracy in flat low-lying coastal regions. Researchers from the University of Alabama and the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center have produced a composite hydrogeomorphic index and developed hydrogeomorphic threshold operative curves to overcome the limitations of HAND. The proposed methodology rapidly produces flood hazard maps of coastal regions with satisfactory accuracy, which can then be used by emergency responders.

(Read more here).

Community- and Ecosystem-Based Approaches to Informal Settlements Essential for Flood Risk Management

Several recent studies into flood risk management for informal settlements have highlighted the benefits of addressing social inequality and adopting ecosystem-based approaches.

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Researchers from the Imperial College London conducted a sensitivity analysis of flood risk management to vulnerability, risk-aversion and flood awareness, concluding that reducing informal communities’ vulnerability to flooding can help reduce social inequality and encourage economic growth. In a different study, researchers from Monash University evaluated the Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments Program in Fiji and Indonesia, which uses citizen science to involve disadvantaged urban communities in flood risk management practices. They found that the program both collected valuable flood data and created an opportunity for local communities to participate in flood risk reduction planning. A third study by PlanAdapt compared the flood risk management practices of four South African and Kenyan cities and highlighted the social justice benefits to informal settlements of adopting ecosystem- and community-based approaches.

(Read more here, here and here).

Intense Rainfall Harms Economic Growth

New research published in the journal Nature suggests that days of extreme rainfall reduce economic growth.

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The team of researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research found that the phenomenon was most pronounced in high-income countries and for the services and manufacturing sectors. The study suggests that the cost of extreme rainfall days has traditionally been neglected in calculations of the cost of climate change. With climate change set to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events, economic growth may be at risk, particularly for wealthy developed nations.

(Read more here and here).

Machine Learning Applications in Flood Prediction

Machine learning approaches are increasingly being recognised for their potential to provide rapid flood forecasting for emergency management.

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Traditional flood forecasting can involve a chain of hydrologic and hydraulic models that require significant computational resources and can be time-consuming to calibrate and run. A new methodology developed at Tianjin University in China uses the machine learning technique of neural networks to identify urban areas that are at high risk of flooding and to accurately predict flood depths. With a run time of only 20 seconds, the simulations provide rapid flood forecasting for flood emergency management in urban areas.

(Read more here and here).

Venice’s Salt Marshes a Cautionary Tale in Flood Protection

Research published in the journal Nature Geoscience suggests that Venice’s flood barriers may be drowning the salt marshes in the city’s lagoon.

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Referred to as MOSE, Venice’s barrier system consists of three submerged gates at the inlets to the lagoon, with large panels closing the inlets when the water level becomes too high. MOSE was constructed to protect the island city from storms during high tides to which low-lying Venice is particularly vulnerable. However, recent research indicates that the salt marshes in the Venice lagoon accumulate most of their sediment during storm events and the new flood barrier system has reduced the amount of sediment reaching the marshes and accumulating there. The decrease in the rate of sediment accumulation may mean that the growth rate of the salt marshes is unable to keep pace with the rate of sea level rise and the marshes will slowly drown.

(Read more here).

Amsterdam’s Floating Suburb Showcases Potential Flood Adaptation Strategy

A suburb of floating homes in Amsterdam is an example of effective flood adaptation to rising tides and storm surges.

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Built on a post-industrial wasteland, the suburb of Schoonschip (“clean ship” in Dutch) is composed of 30 houses, or “arks”, floating on a canal of the IJ and is home to approximately 150 residents. Each home glides up and down along its steel foundational poles with the water level, allowing the homes to adapt to fluctuations in water level. Floating suburbs have the potential to be a solution to living with rising sea levels in low-lying flood prone countries such as the Netherlands.

(Read more here).

Potential Implications of COVID-19 for Flood Evacuation

A recent study of disaster evacuations suggests that sheltering in place, offering evacuees hotel accommodation and updating protocols at shelters can prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19 following a disaster.

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The research examined the impact on the spread of COVID-19 of two evacuation events related to natural hazard disasters experienced in the U.S. during 2020. The study found that shelter-in-place is the ideal strategy for limiting the spread of COVID-19 when it is safe to do so. However, increased mobility due to evacuations did not lead to the rapid spread of the disease due to measures adopted by emergency management, including offering evacuees hotel accommodation rather than mass shelters, performing health screenings and planning for social distancing. The adoption of such measures may similarly help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infection during a flood emergency.

(Read more here).

Flooding Contributes to Three of the Top Ten Weather and Climate Events of 2021

Flooding contributed to three of the top 10 global weather and climate change events of 2021 as identified by Yale Climate Connections.

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Europe’s deadly summer floods, the result of a slow-moving low-pressure system dumping heavy rainfall, led to 240 fatalities and caused $43 billion US in damage. Flooding during China’s 2021 rainy season killed 347 people and caused $30 billion US in damage. The city of Zhengzhou in particular recorded 644.6 mm of rain in a 24-hour period, exceeding the city’s average annual rainfall in a single day. The category 4 storm Hurricane Ida brought flooding to the U.S. East Coast, with damages for the storm totalling $65 billion US. With the frequency of extreme weather events that cause more than $20 billion US in damage increasing over the past four decades, the list of 2021 weather disasters shows that with climate change increasing the frequency of severe storm events, future flood disasters are likely to be extremely costly.

(Read more here).

Scale of Henan Floods Deliberately Underreported by Local Officials

Eight officials of China’s Henan Province have been arrested and 89 disciplined, accused of deliberately underreporting the death toll of the 2021 Henan floods.

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The Beijing government reported that a review of an investigation into the flood disaster had found that provincial officials had been negligent, with urban drainage infrastructure projects lagging and several deficiencies in emergency management systems. The officials are also accused of under-reporting the death toll, which remained at 99 for several days after the floods before jumping to 302. The official death toll has now been reported as 398, with 95% of fatalities occurring in Zhengzhou.

(Read more here).

International Floods

There were 42 international floods reported across 29 countries in December 2021 and January 2022. At least 300 people died and more than 575,000 were displaced.

Internationally significant floods included: 

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Brazil

From November to December of 2021, weeks of intermittent heavy rainfall caused extensive flooding in Bahia, a state in north-eastern Brazil. The federal government declared a state of emergency in approximately 100 municipalities, while the transport of supplies and medical services was hampered by damage to roads and bridges. The failure of two dams on the Verruga and Da Contas Rivers prompted the evacuation of residents downstream. At least 20 people died in Bahia and 63,000 were displaced. Further flooding and landslides occurred in Brazil in January 2022 when over 200 mm of rain fell within 24 hours in the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais. Fifteen fatalities were reported and over 11,000 people were displaced due to flooding of the Paraopeba and Doce Rivers.

(Read more here, here, here and here).

Indonesia

Heavy rainfall caused flooding and landslides on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, with the province of Aceh bearing the majority of the flood damage. This province reported one fatality and 20,000 people displaced. In the city of Lhokseumawe, 149 mm of rain fell in a 24-hour period. In total, 17,750 homes were damaged in Sumatra.

(Read more here).

Malaysia

Widespread flooding hit Malaysia after heavy rainfall in December. The floodwaters swept away both cars and houses, inundated urban areas and cut main roads stranding thousands of motorists. A second period of heavy rainfall exacerbated flooding in January. Malaysia’s disaster agency (NADMA) reported 50 fatalities and 125,500 people displaced on Peninsular Malaysia as a result of the December and January floods.

(Read more here, here and here).

Vietnam

Heavy rainfall resulted in flooding across five provinces in Vietnam, causing damage to national highways and agricultural land, as well as the loss of livestock. Approximately 6,000 households were evacuated, the majority of them in the province of Phu Yen. The Vietnam Disaster Management Agency reported 18 people killed or missing and 2,600 houses damaged.

(Read more here).

Kenya

In early December 2021, parts of Kenya experienced heavy rainfall, causing rivers to swell. Thirty-one people died in Kitui County when a bus carrying choir members to a wedding attempted to drive across a flooded bridge. The bus was swept off the bridge by the flood waters, tipping and quickly becoming submerged. Remarkably, 17 people survived the incident.

(Read more here and here).

Madagascar

In January, heavy rainfall (more than 75 mm in 24 hours) led to flooding and landslides in the Analamanga Region of Madagascar. The severe flooding was exacerbated several days later when Tropical Storm Ana brought further heavy rain, affecting an additional six regions. The BNGRC, Madagascar’s disaster management agency, reported 41 fatalities and 71,800 people displaced, most of which were reported from Analamanga. The flooding damaged infrastructure, inundated agricultural land, and resulted in the collapse of houses.

(Read more here, here and here).

Malawi

Tropical Storm Ana caused intense rainfall, flooding and strong winds in 12 districts in Malawi in January, killing 11 people. Forty-four emergency camps were set up in Chikwawa for the 10,000 people in the district who had been displaced. Flooding also caused serious disruptions to services. Egenco was forced to shut down its power plants, resulting in a black out across most of Malawi. Further, the black out impacted water pumping stations in the district of Blantyre, leaving thousands without power or drinking water.

(Read more here and here).

Mozambique

Tropical Storm Ana brought heavy rainfall to Mozambique, causing the Licungo River in the province of Zambezia to break its banks. Flooding has also impacted the Tete province where a bridge over the Rovubue River was entirely destroyed. Eighteen fatalities were reported, while the flooding and strong winds from the storm cut roads, damaged power infrastructure and destroyed 2,800 houses.

(Read more here and here).

Republic of Congo

Widespread heavy rainfall and flooding has been impacting the Republic of the Congo since September 2021, with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) reporting that by early December there had been 15 fatalities and 6,600 people displaced. The IFRC reported that those who had been displaced were exposed to poor hygiene and waterborne diseases as a result of a lack of clean water.

(Read more here and here).

South Sudan

In December, the UNHCR reported that the ongoing flood crisis in South Sudan was the worst the country had faced in almost 60 years. Flooding began in May 2021 with the onset of South Sudan’s rainy season, and although the rainy season had finished by December, the flood waters remained widespread, stagnant and refused to recede. Although by January 2022 flood waters were beginning to recede, hundreds of thousands of people remained displaced. In Unity State alone, 200,000 people were forced to evacuate due to the floods, which is over 25% of the state’s population. Flood waters across the country inundated farmland, homes, medical and health facilities, schools and markets, leaving many people displaced, with no livelihood and no access to basic services. Malnutrition was rife and a lack of safe drinking water increased the risk of waterborne diseases. Climate change likely contributed to the severity of the floods, with drought during the dry season increasing in severity and hardening the soils, exacerbating flood risks during the wet season by increasing runoff.

(Read more here, here, here and here).

Diary

Masterclass on Meteorology for Disaster Managers
Where: Online
When: 10 to 11 February 2022
For more information visit here

2022 ASFPM Conference
Where: Caribe Royale Orlando, Florida
When: 15 to 19 May 2022
For more information visit here

FMA National Conference, Toowoomba
Where: Toowoomba
When: 18 to 20 May 2022
For more information visit here

2022 NSW Coastal Conference
Where: Kingscliff
When: 31 May to 2 June 2022
For more information visit here

2022 Flood and Coast Conference
Where: Telford, UK and Online
When: 7 to 9 June 2022
For more information visit here

AFAC22 conference for emergency management
Where: Adelaide Convention Centre, SA
When: 23 to 26 August 2022
For more information visit here

Australian Disaster Resilience Conference 2022
Where: Adelaide Convention Centre, SA
When: 24 to 25 August 2022
For more information visit here

Resources

NSW Strategic Guide to Planning for Natural Hazards

The NSW government has released its Strategic Guide for natural hazards, intended to provide communities and councils with the tools to prepare for and recover from extreme natural hazard events. The guide is aimed at saving both lives and property, identifies the relevant natural hazards that should be considered in strategic planning in NSW and sets out eight guiding principles to inform decisions regarding land use and managing the risk of natural hazards. The Strategic Guide is accompanied by a resource kit to assist decision makers in accessing relevant information, tools and standards.

(Read here).

Updated Public Information and Warnings Handbook

The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience has updated its Public Information and Warnings handbook to include recent research, such as research by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre into natural hazard communications and warnings. The handbook provides nationally agreed principles for warning delivery to those who are responsible for public communication during emergencies.

(Read here).

Effectiveness of Emergency Communications

Recent research by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre into effective emergency communications has been published as companion Hazard Notes. Researchers studied how language can trigger behavioural responses and how this can be harnessed in risk and warning communication for bushfires and floods. The study also evaluated different Emergency Alert structures for natural hazards.

(Read here and here).

Global Risks Report 2022

The World Economic Forum has released its Global Risks Report 2022, which presents the results from recent surveys of risk experts and world leaders regarding key global risks for the coming year. The report lists “climate action failure” as the primary threat to the world in the long-term, with climate already impacting floods, fires and droughts.

(Read here).

How Floodplain Management Practices Increase the Frequency of Lowland Flooding

A new book by Paul Hudson, an Associate Professor of Physical Geography from the Leiden University College, examines the impacts humans have had on lowland rivers. Hudson identifies degraded riparian systems and increased flood risk as the two main impacts, with increased flood risk often the result of previous river system mismanagement.

(Read here and here).

Climate Change Contribution to Extreme Natural Disasters in 2020

The American Meteorological Society has released its latest special report titled ‘Explaining Extreme Events of 2020 from a Climate Perspective’. The report assesses whether anthropogenic climate change may have contributed to the intensity or likelihood of individual extreme weather events experienced around the world in 2020 and the extent of climate change’s influence. The special report includes 18 peer-reviewed papers presenting research from 89 scientists across nine countries.

(Read here).

Natural Disasters Data Book 2020

The Asian Disaster Reduction Center has published its ‘Natural Disaster Data Book 2020: An Analytical Overview’. This book statistically examines natural disaster data and for the year 2020 focuses on data related to COVID-19 and data related to climate-related disasters. The authors find that in 2020 floods and storms were the most frequent forms of natural hazard disaster, affecting the largest number of people and resulting in the largest economic losses. This has also been the trend for the past 30 years.

(Read here).

Comparing Methodologies to Estimate Flow Hydrograph for Levee Breach

A team of researchers from Italy have published an article detailing a methodology for estimating discharge hydrographs for levee breach. The study compares two potential optimisation methods: the ensemble smoother with multiple data assimilation (ES-MDA) and the Bayesian geostatistical approach (BGA). The research found that when applied to Secchia River in Italy the ES-MDA method required fewer model runs to achieve optimisation and was therefore more efficient with regard to computational time.

(Read here).

Calibrating Hydrological Models with the Quantile Loss Function to Address Uncertainty

A recent journal article by researchers from Greece and Italy proposes a new method for quantifying the uncertainty in predictive performance in hydrological modelling. The authors use the quantile loss function to calibrate the model and then apply the methodology in three hydrological models, simulating 511 US river catchments.

(Read here).

Relationship Between Human Behaviour and Urbanisation in Floodplains

A team of US researchers has studied the interactions between human behaviour and urbanisation in floodplains. The study uses an Agent-Based Model, identifying factors that may influence the decisions of households to move into flood prone urban areas, or to relocate from them. The results may be of use to city planners concerned with future land development and building resilient cities.

(Read here).