In recent months Australia has experienced many devastating natural disasters.
Back in December and January widespread flooding affected the states of Queensland and Victoria where an area the size of Germany and France was under flood waters. More than 30 people died in the flooding and the reconstruction will cost an estimated £3.5 Billion. The cause of the flooding is thought to be due to an extremely strong La Nina event. La Nina occurs when surface temperatures are cooler than normal in the eastern Pacific and warmer than normal in the western Pacific. Cold water rises up from the ocean's depths and collects off the west coast of South America. Pulled by strong easterly winds, the cool water surges westwards across the Pacific in the form of a 'cold tongue'. This leads to warm water building up and becoming trapped along the east coast of Australia and South-East Asia resulting in unusually heavy rainfall in these areas, and hence caused the widespread flooding this year.
Last week Queensland was hit by a massive Tropical Cyclone, Yasi, which was billed as the worst storm in the countries history. Yasi made landfall near Caines and bought with it torrential rain and estimated winds of 190 mph. Amazingly there were thought to be no deaths due to the storm despite the destruction it caused. The warmer than average waters off the east coast Australian caused by this years La Nina is likely to have significantly contributed to the storms strengthening as it approached the country.
The latest natural disaster to hit Australia is the bushfires currently raging out of control in parts of Western Australia, particularly near the city of Perth. Efforts to control the fire are being severely hindered by strong winds of up to 44 mph coupled with hot and dry weather creating huge flames which spread quickly and easily to nearby trees and buildings. Swirling flames have engulfed 64 houses and damaged 32 more, officials said. There have been no reports of serious injuries or fatalities.