Weather in 2018 – North & Southern Hemispheres
This year in Australia, the impact of severe weather has been primarily interruptions to power supplies. Darwin suffered a Category 2 cyclone in March which resulted in the Insurance Council declaring a Catastrophe for the area. Although most buildings avoided serious damage – large parts of Darwin were without power for many days – primarily because of trees falling onto power lines.
We tend to underestimate our reliance on reliable power. Although many businesses in Darwin were lucky to escape physical damage, having no power for several weeks can have a substantial impact on business operations. The rapid trend towards “Touch and Pay” in retail outlets, means that fewer people carry cash and a power outage has a much bigger impact than when “cash was king”. Is your business dependent on a thriving retail channel?
A similar storm impacted Perth in early June, resulting in power outages to 10,000 homes.
In the Northern Hemisphere, they have experienced an extraordinary summer.
High temperature and low rainfall records have been broken in many countries. Raging fires have impacted California through to Greece. If you have any lingering doubts about the extent of the heat wave – this article provides an amazing summary of what’s been happening this summer.
The impacts have been diverse. Power supplies have been interrupted because of demand increases due to the increased use of air conditioners, whilst the efficiency of the power plants decreases with higher temperatures. Some power plants had insufficient cooling water or the river water used for cooling was too warm!
When a blistering heat wave struck the Southland region in California earlier this month, the region’s electric grid was so overwhelmed that more than 100,000 customers in Los Angeles had at some point lost power. Some went days without electricity. Here in Australia, the power distributors will load shed by shutting down power supplies to whole suburbs.
No doubt in the coming weeks, we will read about the human impact of the heatwaves. In past heatwaves, vulnerable people died from the heat. Unlike Australians, Europeans are unused to these high temperatures and often are unaware of the dangers of heat exposure and the effects of dehydration.