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Australia blames La Nina for epic floods

Australia blames La Nina for epic floods SYDNEY: Australia has blamed the disruptive "La Nina" weather pattern for epic flooding that has inundated thousands of northeastern homes and swamped an area the size of Texas.

The meteorology bureau said La Nina, which forms in the Pacific and is associated with extreme weather, had brought the wettest year on record in Queensland state, where 40 towns have been deluged or isolated by flooding.

"By July, La Nina conditions were well established and most areas of Australia experienced very much above average rainfall," the bureau said in an annual climate report on Wednesday.

"The second half of the year (July to December) was the wettest on record for Australia."

Torrential rains over Christmas fell on land already saturated by months of wet weather, stretching river systems which then spilled over thousands of square kilometres (miles) of farmland and coal mines.

"Thousands of properties were inundated in Emerald, Bundaberg, Rockhampton and many smaller centres, while the communities of Theodore and Condamine were evacuated," the bureau said.

"Numerous rivers throughout the region reached record levels. Damage to property and infrastructure, as well as the economic cost from crop losses and disruptions to mining, is expected to run to several billion dollars."

La Nina is the opposition condition of El Nino, which subsided in June after being blamed for an exceptionally snowbound winter in North America and Europe.

La Nina is characterised by unusually cool ocean temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific, and is associated with strong rainfall in Asia and Australia, bitter cold snaps in North America, and drought in South America.

In Australia, water levels have peaked in many areas while other towns downstream are still bracing for the full impact of the deluge, while officials warn communities could take months to recover.


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