Victoria is bracing for a “very extreme” heatwave that experts say could be worse than Black Saturday in 2009.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning says that the odds of a ‘one-in-110-years’ heatwave have become a real likelihood in the next five years.
“Risk managers are also planning for the impact of a very extreme heatwave event on Victoria, an unprecedented scenario 10 per cent more severe than the 2009 Black Saturday heatwave,” according to a departmental document.
“An event of this magnitude would cause irreparable damage to the natural and engineered systems that underpin the Victorian economy.”
Global warming has made extreme fire weather conditions like drought, high temps and strong winds a permanent reality and is setting the stage for more horrors ahead.
It’s believed such an event could potentially kill hundreds of people, cripple public transport, the electricity supply and wipe $1bn from the economy.
The 2009 Black Saturday event saw 173 people die in the monster blazes and 374 people perish from heat-related causes.
The conditions were categorised as “extreme” but scientists may need to make a new category
The 2009 and 2014 hot periods were officially defined as “extreme”, but the government’s scientists and researchers say they could soon need a new category: the “very extreme” heatwave.
Emergency services planners have modelled a scenario for training and preparation based on the very extreme heatwave of seven days of temperatures above 40 degrees, leading to 900 heatwave deaths, serious fires across the state and breakdowns of the electricity and public transport systems.