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Extreme Weather

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, one of the greatest impacts of climate change is the severity and frequency of extreme weather events that include floods, fires, drought, thunderstorms, high-wind events and heatwaves. Heatwaves have caused more deaths in Australia than any other natural hazard. These events impact our environment, our communities and our wellbeing. The photo in the above banner shows a stobie pole that was bent during the 12 November 2022 storms which disrupted power supply to many residents in Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills. 

An increased frequency of notable events has occurred in South Australia since 2018. A few notable events that have occurred in South Australia include (but are not limited to) the following:

Modification of our environment has also compounded the impacts of these extreme weather events. For example, urban development results in less permeable surfaces, which increases stormwater runoff that can lead to flooding of our waterways and roads. Mitigating these impacts requires better planning that considers potential impacts of extreme weather events.

The number of incidents the Country Fire Service (CFS) responded to in 2022–23 increased by 10%, and hours spent servicing incidents almost doubled compared with the previous year. The CFS advised that this is mainly due to the number of major weather events that required CFS assistance, including severe weather and the River Murray floods. The CFS has stated that it is critical that their crews are supplied with the appropriate resources to respond to any emergencies in the future.

Increased investment in mitigating and planning for extreme events and climate change will hopefully reduce the pressure and need for government to allocate resources for natural disaster funds that are ad hoc in timing and resourcing requirements. The Intergenerational Report 2023 produced by the Australian Government has stated that the Insurance Council of Australia estimates resilience funding could provide returns of $8.10 by 2050 for every $1 invested under current circumstances based on expenditure required to address natural disasters.

The South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission (SAFECOM) has developed a Disaster Resilience Strategy to help our government and community build their capacity and resilience to respond to extreme events. SAFECOM also administers a number of grant programs that aim to build disaster resilience and risk reduction.

Photo: Ash Penhall photography

Further Reading