Be prepared: La Nina likely bringing more rain

Published 5:35pm 30 August 2022

Be prepared: La Nina likely bringing more rain
Words by Jodie Powell

Social support and practical action will be the keys to coping with the impact of likelihood of a third consecutive La Nina as the Moreton Bay Region continues to recover from the damage caused by heavy rain earlier this year, according to a UniSC psychology expert.

UniSC Senior Lecturer in Psychology Dr Rachael Sharman says that in the light of the Bureau of Meteorology’s announcement today that the chance of La Niña forming in coming months is at least 70 percent, now is the time to prepare.

The Bureau says the likelihood of La Nina forming is about three times higher than in any year.

La Niña conditions increase the chance of above average spring and summer rainfall.

Dr Sharman says research shows that for the most part, people can generally cope with disasters with appropriate amounts of social support and practical assistance.

“Obviously hearing that news for some people will be anxiety-provoking, and for very good reason,” she says.

“Anxiety is underpinned by fear and that’s emotionally underpinned by uncontrollability and unpredictability.”

Time to prepare

Be prepared: La Nina likely bringing more rain

Dr Sharman says while people can’t control the weather, they can control how they mitigate the damage it causes.

“They need to think about what their mitigation is going to be and that’s where governments and councils can step in with things like tip sheets on where to go to get help and fact sheets on building a sandbag wall.

“That kind of practical assistance is really helpful.”

She says a plan by Moreton Bay Regional Council to offer unlimited domestic green waste disposal in September would give residents the chance to take control of planning for unpredictable weather conditions.

“It’s about goal-setting activity – it’s more than just a useful distraction.

“People who have higher levels of perceived control have better mental health, they feel better, they feel less stressed.”

Beaches at risk

Be prepared: La Nina likely bringing more rain

UniSC geographer Dr Javier Leon says another La Niña is not good news for our beaches, with erosion that carved a passage through Bribie Island earlier in the year likely to continue.

“Those beaches have been experiencing erosion already, which means that they’re more vulnerable.

“If Bribie breaches then Golden Beach becomes a huge issue, with a lot of sand and sediment moving across.

“In some areas erosion is the issue and in others sediment will be an issue.”

Dr Leon says coastal erosion is a complex problem that requires a complex solution and while adding more sand or building sea walls to protect critical infrastructure behind the beaches could help, ultimately some tough decisions will need to be made.

“It’s not an erosion issue, it’s a social and economic issue that we have to face as a society.

“We have to seriously start looking into the future and making a call because this is just a cycle.

“With what’s forecast in the next few decades we will definitely see an increase in sea levels and weather from the east.

“We need to make a decision about whether we keep protecting the coast – which is very expensive – or whether we want to start retreating from the coast and avoid new developments in erosion areas.

“There’s going to be a point very soon where we have to make that decision – all of those other solutions are like little Band-Aids.”

Find out how to prepare for storm and bushfire season and view Moreton Bay Region flood maps here.

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