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Natural
Disasters
in Australia

Australia is not immune to natural disasters despite the fact they don't occur with frequency. Due the vast dimensions of the country, some of this events are secluded to one or another region and don't affect the country as a whole. Some storms are even welcome by surfers and farmers but some others are very dangerous and had caused death in the past. See below which are the biggest occurrences in OZ land.

The Drought is without doubt one of the most complicated problem Australia has. Because the vast areas of deserts, and very low annual precipitation, the country is very dry, except by a stripe of green vegetation nearby the coast. Australia in the distant past, had many parts of its territory submerged in the ocean. The result is that the soil is salty bringing many problems for vegetation and agricultural activities. Water is the key factor in Australia and a possible problem for its growth. Desalinisation of water is expensive and in case the population doubles today, it will no water for everybody. It is not a surprise to have water restriction in many Australian cities during long periods without rain. Also, due the low humidity of the air, every summer Australia has to face its worst enemy, fire. 

Forests Fires are among the natural disasters that cause big losses both humans and material. These fires can break out by many reasons, but one of the main causes is the dry air that during summer blows from the deserts to the coast. As temperatures in the deserts get close to 50 degrees Celsius, the wind direction changes, bringing very dry and hot air to the coastal vegetation. This vegetation under a very strong sun and with the help of the hot wind, spark an expontaneous combustion that in one minute can consume a whole block. Cigarettes buts are another factor, as well as agricultural fires that quickly goes out of control. During summer months entire regions may be on total fire ban. That means you can't produce any outdoor fire even to cook.

Cyclones in Australia are frequent but fortunately they don't occur to often in very populated areas. Mostly of the areas affected are on the Northern region of Australia and it very rare when they make their way down South. The Northeast and Northwest area of the Gulf of Carpenteria, have very warm sea water temperatures during summer time. All the time these waters rises above 26° C. it is like a cyclone to happen, just waiting for the proper wind. Most of the summers in Northern Australia produces easily 28 degrees of sea water temperature. Many cyclones are formed, but not with power enough to cause destruction. Some of them can be merciless, like the one that vanished the city of Darwin on Christmas day of 1974 killing 66 people and flatting out the city. It was a category 5 cyclone with winds above 300 Km per hour. No more deaths were registered due a quick response from authorities that evacuated 30000 people before the event took place. The city was rebuilt by its citizens and government, but still has to be alert every summer. The South of Australia, don't receive cyclones, but once in a while it receives very powerful storms from the Indian Ocean.

Never Happens or just once in a while.

Active Volcanoes don't exist in Australia, but long before volcanic activities were registered in many parts of the territory. Today, volcanoes are dead or in deep sleep in Australia. The Glass House Mountain (photo), on the Queensland Sunshine Coast are a beautiful remain from this era. Mt. Warning on the North of New South Wales, is another extinct volcano that created a huge crater and a valley, today known as Tweed Valley and the Gold Coast. Australia is out of the ring of fire and tectonic plates movements. That is the why it never suffers from big earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.

Tsunamis, Floods, Tornados, Hail storms etc..  Australia don't have big earthquakes as said before, but sometimes some deep terrain accommodation can eventually happens provoking non-destructive quakes. But a couple of Thousand of Kilometers outside the continent, the Pacific plate and the ring of fire are very active. This can cause volcanic eruptions and seaquakes big enough to produce big Tsunamis. There are no records a big one hitting the East Coast of Australia but it is possible, and after the Dec 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, Australia is putting in place a alarm system to protect residents of coastal areas. Floods are rare but they occur sometimes in many cities, and up North Queensland, during the Monsoons or cyclones. In December of 1999 a hail storm in Brisbane turned many cars in a lunar landscape after a storm that produced Tennis size balls of ice. Almost half of the outdoor parked cars, had damages. Tornados are very rare, and when they happen are of small size. The Bass Strait between Tasmania and the Continent can have big ones during summer time. Thunderstorms are very frequent specially during months of summer.

As you see, Australia also can have some natural conflicts that may bring problems and death, but the results of these phenomenas has been causing a very limited  life loss. Until the present date, the biggest ones are still the wild fires.

Gold Coast - Flood on June, 30Th 2005 - No victims
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