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Truckies should prepare now for La Niña warns expert

Mike-Larkan - La Nina

The weather predictions are La Niña is on the way. So, what does that mean for those of you who are in the transport, logistics or construction industries? As part of our coverage of National Road Safety Week, brought to you by NTI, well-known Australian weather presenter Mike Larkan chats to Big Rigs.

Larkan said La Niña means extreme weather events and the time to prepare is now. “We’ve come out of El Nino, which has seen drought for years. What we’re heading into is the opposite.”

Larkan said it’s been almost a decade since Australia experienced its last La Niña.

“It affects all Australians, but we know it has an enormous and direct impact on those in the transport and logistics industries, who we rely on so heavily to keep this country moving,” he said. 

The advice is to plan and prepare your operations, service model and people ahead of time and to do that, he said, you need to understand the conditions and weather extremes the experts are predicting.

La Niña is a weather phenomenon that blows warmer water across the Pacific Ocean to Australia. Current weather reports indicate La Niña is underway and expected to last throughout the 2020/2021 summer.

The result is an overall increase in rainfall of up to 20 per cent, an earlier start to the monsoon season across northern Australia and a greater risk of flooding across the country.

For those in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, La Niña also means increased cyclone activity so be prepared to batten down the hatches.

“Queensland on average records four cyclones a year, the north west of the country up to seven and the warning with La Niña is we could see even more,” Mr Larkan said.

When it comes to south-eastern Australia, a La Niña typically brings more rainfall during spring and at the start of summer.

While for the other side of the country, more extreme weather isn’t likely to hit until later in the season.

“During La Niña we typically see increased activity later in the season, when tropical cyclones may drive down from the north-west, bringing large amounts of rain to the southern parts of south-western Australia.”

Cyclone season officially begins on November 1 and ends on April 30.

Larkan warns now is the time to be ready, to have your procedures and plans in place.

“From the time a cyclone starts to form out to sea, you’ll usually have just three to five days to plan and activate your emergency response,” he said.

 Floodwaters can rise fast and stay high for days, sometimes weeks in outback Australia.   

“The last time a major La Niña system impacted Australia was from 2010 to 2012.”

Larkan said the 2010 to 2011 La Niña system was the fourth strongest ever observed.

“It delivered some of the worst flooding in history and some of the biggest cyclones our country has experienced.”

But Larkan said history shows no two La Niña’s are the same.

He said as well as increased rainfall and potentially very destructive cyclones, periods of La Niña also recorded cooler average daytime temperatures and warmer nights.

It comes as most of the country’s transport, logistics and construction industries have already been impacted by drought, some by bushfires and almost all by COVID.

Specialist insurer NTI is echoing Larkan’s calls urging owners and operators of vehicles, vessels, and equipment to assess their plans and procedures before summer.

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