Revealed – how much damage was caused by April storms

What is causing persistent rains?

Revealed – how much damage was caused by April storms

Catastrophe & Flood

By Jonalyn Cueto

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) reported that the April storms that struck New South Wales resulted in $176 million in insured damages, with property damage comprising over 95% of the total.

The storm, which occurred from April 3 to April 8, heavily affected the Hawkesbury-Nepean and Illawarra regions. A total of 14,781 claims were made, including 13,959 for home building and contents, 1,737 for motor vehicle damage, and 822 for commercial property damage.

The ICA declared the incident, known as SE 242, a “significant event” to enhance insurers’ response capabilities, begin collecting claims data, and coordinate analysis and reporting with members. This declaration also facilitated support efforts with government and emergency services. The council noted that insurers were active in the affected communities and had already paid out $10 million to those impacted.

This storm marked the conclusion of a particularly demanding summer for insurers, who faced three extreme weather events since Christmas. These events collectively caused $1.6 billion in insured damages across Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria.

The breakdown of these damages includes:

  • Christmas storms (Cat 233) - $1.24 billion
  • Valentine’s Day storms (SE 241) - $196 million
  • April storms (SE 242) - $176 million

“Blocking high” causing new weather patterns

Since the start of May, Sydney and other parts of the New South Wales coast have experienced continuous rain, with accumulated falls between 50 and 100 millimetres over the course of one week. The Illawarra and Hunter regions were particularly affected by heavy downpours last week.

Climate scientists attribute this weather pattern to a phenomenon known as a “blocking high.” This critical aspect of Australia’s weather system is essential for understanding future rainfall patterns.

A “blocking high” is a strong high-pressure system that remains stationary for an extended period, ranging from several days to several weeks. For Australia, this system forms just south of the continent, where it blocks the usual path of rain-bearing weather systems that move from east to west.

“The flow of storms, which normally moves along the stream, has to go around that block,” explained CSIRO climate scientist James Risbey.

Experts noted the impacts of blocking highs can vary depending on their strength and location. In the current scenario, the main effect is increased rainfall. The high-pressure system directs a constant stream of onshore winds over the east coast, resulting in persistent showery weather for the region. However, blocking highs can also lead to bouts of extreme heat and dryness.

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