Aussie life in a land of extremes

Aussie life in a land of extremes

Weather hot

Source: The Daily Telegraph

Weather wet

Source: The Daily Telegraph

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RAVAGED by drought and bushfires, drenched by floods and hammered by destructive storms – Australia’s recent weather patterns are a reminder how severe this wide brown land can be.

And comprehensive analysis of world climate data has revealed just how tough Australian weather is compared to the rest of the world.

According to the Weather Channel study, which looked at global rainfall, temperatures and serious events like cyclones and heatwaves, Australia is among the 10 most extreme countries on the planet for weather.

Meteorologist Tom Saunders said Australia was the world’s number one hotspot for bushfires, while at the other end of the spectrum, it was also home to the world’s fifth-wettest place – Mt Bellenden Ker between Townsville and Cairns. The coastal mountain cops more than 8.3m of rain a year on average.

Tropical Cyclone Monica, which thundered into the Queensland coast in 2006, was one of the top five most powerful cyclones or hurricanes ever to make landfall, generating winds of up to 285km/h.

And the West Australian town of Marble Bar set a world record when it baked through temperatures of more than 37.8C for 160 consecutive days in 1923-24.

“We are such a large country and we’re a country that spreads from the tropics into the mid-latitudes. That is the key – our size and our position,” Mr Saunders said.

“Because of that, we get tropical severe weather but we also get the thunderstorms, tornadoes and bushfires.”

The study found that overall, the US had the world’s most extreme weather due to its similarly large size and “astonishingly” variable conditions. “It has a tropical ocean on one side, the Gulf of Mexico and it’s got the cold continental region of the Canadian plains on the other side,” Mr Saunders said.

“That’s what causes much of their severe weather, when the warm, moist air from the south clashes with the cold, dry air from the north.”

Luckily for Australia, and unlike the US, most of our population is concentrated in the south-east, Mr Saunders said. “That means most of us don’t have to live with the deserts, the tropical cyclones and the monsoon rains … but we do get those bushfires.”

Surprisingly, Australia did not figure in the world’s five driest locations, due to occasional storms that drenched the desert interior. Meteorologist Dick Whitaker said the South Australian outback town of Mulka was Australia’s driest place, recording just 103mm of rain a year.


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