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Orange braces for more chaos as La Niña lurks for months

By Peter Holmes

SES workers deal with a fallen tree on Lords Place, following the savage Boxing Day 2021 storms. Copyright: Orange News Examiner on-the-spot photo.

The stark Christmas Day warning from the Bureau of Meteorology pointed to severe thunderstorms, damaging winds, large hailstones and heavy rain that could lead to flash flooding.

And when the storm hit Orange around 5:40pm on Boxing Day, the city braced itself for the unknown.

The Orange City SES was called to a house on Lords Place, where a tree had fallen to the edge of the roof, on the morning of December 27.

Within a couple of hours the crew had removed the tree.

Within a few hours, the SES had removed the tree. Copyright: Orange News Examiner on-the-spot photo..

More boisterous weather is predicted, with La Niña active in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

The Bureau of Meteorology stated in its December 21, 2021 release: "All seven of the international climate models surveyed by the Bureau anticipate further cooling of tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures.

"All models surveyed indicate La Niña thresholds are likely to be met during January, four remain above threshold in February and another two are borderline, but by March only one model continues to meet the threshold."

A flood rescue undertaken by Orange City SES members in mid-November 2021 at Dixon's Long Point Crossing during not only a flood event but in the middle of a heavy hail and thunderstorm. Photo: Orange City SES.

The bureau said that for 2021–22 to be considered a La Niña year, "the event needs to be sustained for at least three months in total".

But, it added: "Regardless of whether La Niña thresholds are sustained for three months or for a shorter period, the presence of La Niña-like patterns in the Pacific increases the chances of above-average rainfall for northern and eastern Australia this summer.

"It should be noted that the strength of an event doesn't necessarily equal the strength of its effect."

Video: Boxing Day 2021 storm in Orange. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

When severe thunderstorms and flash flooding are forecast, the SES advised:

* Move your car under cover or away from trees.

* Secure or put away loose items around your house, yard and balcony.

* Keep at least eight metres away from fallen power lines or objects that may be energised, such as fences.

* Report fallen power lines to Essential Energy (132 080).

* Keep clear of creeks and storm drains.

* Don't walk, ride your bike or drive through flood water.

* If you are trapped by flash flooding, seek refuge in the highest available place and ring 000 if you need rescue.

* Unplug computers and appliances.

* Avoid using the phone during the storm.

* Stay indoors away from windows, and keep children and pets indoors as well.

* Stay vigilant and monitor conditions. Note that the landscape may have changed following bushfires.

* For emergency help in floods and storms, ring the SES (NSW and ACT) on 132 500.


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