Higher cost of living expected after top food-producing regions suffer major flooding, Australia
Drier weather has returned to flood-affected parts of Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales on Monday, October 17, 2022, however, floodwaters remain high and continue to rise at some locations. Dry conditions will be short-lived, as more widespread rain and storms are forecast across eastern Australia later this week.
- Victoria was the worst-affected state last week, with some towns experiencing more than a month’s worth of rain and the highest river peaks in decades
- While thousands of people were ordered to evacuate their homes in Victoria and New South Wales, the floods resulted in the deaths of at least 2 people and another two missing
- Some of the top-producing regions in SE Australia suffered major flooding, sparking fears the situation will increase the cost of living amid surging inflation
- Residents and communities living on or near any rivers, creeks and streams or in low-lying areas, especially in southern Queensland, much of inland New South Wales, Victoria and northern Tasmania are advised to stay up to date with the latest forecast and warnings
Parts of southeastern Australia registered more than a month’s worth of rain last week, inundating roads, homes, and some of the best-growing and producing regions in Australia.
“We’re talking here about some of the best growing and producing country in Australia and it has been seriously impacted, whether it’s been the destruction of crops or the inability to access some of these farmlands,” Treasurer of Australia, Jim Chalmers, said. “It will also have obvious consequences for the budget.”1
Major fruit and vegetable producer Costa Group fell as much as 16% on October 17 after warning that its citrus crop has suffered due to adverse weather. Earnings from the division will land “considerably lower” than previously forecast, it said, flagging further downside risk if the extreme weather continues.
Elsewhere, Australian concrete producer Adbri Ltd. said severe rainfall was hitting volumes and costs of goods, while rising inflation was further pressuring margins. The stock plummeted as much as 20% to its lowest since March 2009 after the firm issued worse-than-expected earnings guidance.
There are also fears about the impact the flooding will have on the quality of grain on the east coast, with crops due to be collected later this year at risk of being submerged in the worst-affected areas.
Dry conditions currently experienced across the region will be short-lived, as another episode of widespread rain and storms are forecast across eastern Australia later this week.2
Depending on how the weather systems move, severe thunderstorms are possible, with heavy rainfall leading to flash flooding being the main risk. Damaging winds and large hail are also possible.
“It’s quite likely we’ll see a flood peak happen and waters recede, followed by another peak, as different river systems come together,” Federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt told Australian Broadcasting Corp.2
“So this is a very serious situation and the reports I’m getting is we … could be looking at up to 9 000 homes inundated in northern Victoria and potentially close to about 34 000 homes in Victoria either inundated or isolated,” Watt added.
Professor Julie Arblaster from Monash University’s School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment in Melbourne described three successive La Niñas affecting Australia as rare.3
“The rainfall and flooding is consistent with our understanding of how a La Niña event impacts our region,” Arblaster said in a statement.
Other climate drivers — a positive Southern Annular Mode and negative Indian Ocean Dipole — have also aligned to bring above-average rainfall to eastern Australia.
1 Floods Hit Australian Firms, Economy as Wild Weather Persists – Bloomberg – October 17, 2022
2 Major flooding continues across south-east Australia with more rain on the way – BOM – October 17, 2022
3 Australian floods could inundate or isolate 34,000 homes – ABC – October 17, 2022
Featured image credit: Victoria SES
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