Australia’s ‘black summer’ of severe weather wasn’t just bad luck
The 2019–20 bushfire season led to flooding and polluted drinking water despite moderate rainfall
First it was severe drought, then record-breaking wildfires, and finally flooding. Through the summer of 2019 and winter of 2020 Australia’s east coast was hit by one extreme weather event after another. Research shows this triple-whammy was not just bad luck.
2019 was Australia’s warmest and driest year on record. Average rainfall was 40% less than normal, with New South Wales and Queensland being particularly parched. Not surprisingly, the dry conditions led to months of severe wildfires, burning through an area the size of the UK, killing at least 33 people and destroying more than 3,000 homes.