Australia Natural Disasters
Australia - a land of droughts and flooding rains, cyclones, and bushfires. All about Australia's worst natural disasters and their effects.
Asked by Kitty Schaden in Australia Natural Disasters, Wildfires, Australia
How did the Australia fires start?
According to Diana Bernstein, climate scientist and Assistant Research Professor in the Division of Marine Science at the University of Southern Mississippi: “Apart from human activities, Australia’s hot and dry summers are to blame for the start and the spread of the wildfires." Although the region knows to expect a fire season, these most recent fires have been worse than most. This is because Australia is currently experiencing its worst drought in decades as well as a heatwave that broke the record for the highest nationwide average temperature in December. These elements combined have caused the fires to spread more rapidly than usual. Many experts also reference climate change as a contributing factor, as the increasingly extreme weather conditions are taking their toll on an already at-risk area. There is also the human element—there have already been 24 people charged with deliberately starting bushfires this season.
Asked in Australia Natural Disasters
Which area was affected the most in Australia's bushfires?
Asked in Australia Natural Disasters
How many people die annually from bushfires in Australia?
There are bad years, and not so bad years. Prior to the 7-Feb-2009 fires, the worst fires were - Black Friday, 13-Jan-1939 claimed 71 lives. Ash Wednesday, 16-Feb-1983 claimed 72 lives. The 7-Feb-2009 fires have claimed 210 lives to date, and this is expected to increase as search parties comb the burnt out areas. Sometimes, it is not just the fires themselves which claim lives. In the 2009 bushfires, many people died in horrific multi-vehicle accidents because the smoke and ash reduced visibility to almost nil.
What do you do in a bushfire?
Your actions in a bushfire will depend on where you are at the time, but the first action should always be to leave the area as soon as you hear of a bushfire risk. Enough warning is usually given for people to evacuate their houses: it is not recommended that you try and stay to save your house. Nor should you attempt to drive through a bushfire. If you are trapped in a car, you must ensure all windows are fully closed, get down on the floor and put whatever you have in the car in top of you, to shield yourself from the heat. If you are trapped in a house and do not have a basement or cellar, as most Australian houses do not, the best place is the bathtub, again with whatever insulating material you can cover yourself with. If you have time, you might be able to backburn, but it is unlikely you will have time, and remember that an intense bushfire can easily jump a backburn or firebreak.
Asked in Victoria, Australia Natural Disasters
What part of Victoria did the black Saturday bushfires burn through?
The Black Saturday bushfires of February 2009 occurred in central Victoria. Towns destroyed or severely damaged in the February 2009 bushfires included: Marysville Kinglake Narbethong Hazeldene Kilmore Yea Churchill Narre Warren Other towns and regions affected, but not severely damaged, include: Beechworth Flowerdale Horsham Coleraine Weerite Bunyip Dargo Wilson's Promontory and the West Gippsland area Part of the city of Bendigo was also badly affected by separate fires.
Asked in Australia, Australia Natural Disasters
Where does a bushfire never occur in Australia?
Bushfires can occur virtually anywhere in Australia. As well as bushland, woodlands and forests such as pine plantations, bushfires can occur in grasslands, alpine areas, scrubby deserts and even within bushland refuges in the city. The only place they cannot occur is in the sandy desert or gibber desert.