With four lives lost, hundreds of people evacuated, thousands of properties damaged, and parts of vulnerable coastline changed for ever; the east coast of Australia has been hammered by a severe weather event. Earlier this month an east coast low pummelled the Australian coastline from Queensland to Tasmania with several hundred millimetres of rain and winds in excess of 100km/h in some parts. In what may still may become one of Australia’s most expensive natural disasters, this superstorm stretched emergency services and disrupted public transport and outdoor events across four states.
Collaroy on Sydney’s northern beaches lost more than thirty metres of sand and left beachside homes teetering on the edge of the sea. Iconic Surf Clubs such as one at Coogee in Sydney’s east, sustained serious structural damage and Sydney’s popular Vivid festival had its lights dimmed by the torrential rain, shutting down light projections at the Taronga Park Zoo, Martin Place and Darling Harbour. Organisers, urging visitors to delay attending after the city’s Transport Management Centre advised Sydneysiders to ‘avoid all non-essential travel’.
In all this gloom and doom, the rain provided some positives with many parents getting an unexpected break from the weekly tradition of couriering children to weekend sporting commitments.
The Red Bull Big Wave competition, held at the aptly named: ‘Cape Fear’, off Sydney’s Botany Bay was held as wind conditions eased, with waves in excess of 10 metres presenting a real test of competitors skill and their sanity!
This weather event reminds us of the vulnerability outdoor events can be to the weather and the importance of a carefully considered wet weather plan. While this bad weather was predicted days in advance, event organisers should also consider plans that can be enacted at short notice, in the event of deteriorating weather conditions at short notice.