The frequent wet weather conditions experienced in many parts of Australia over the past two years are driven by La Niña conditions

PERILS has disclosed its initial industry loss estimate for the floods in Southeast Australia, which primarily affected the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania in October 2022.

Its initial estimate of the insured market loss, based on loss data collected from the majority of the Australian insurance market, is $791m. This loss number covers the property and motor hull lines of business. 

Darryl Pidcock, head of PERILS Asia-Pacific, commented: “After the devastating floods in late February and early March 2022, the Southeast Australia Floods of October 2022 represent yet another major flood event for Australia.

”While the meteorological conditions of the two events were similar, the October event affected a much less densely populated area and hence losses were significantly lower. Nevertheless, the resulting industry loss was substantial and ranks as the fifth largest flood event loss since 1980.”

La Nina drives wet conditions

From 12 to 28 October 2022, a series of low-pressure systems brought heavy rain to inland Southeast Australia. The low-pressure systems connected with tropical air masses from the north, which were loaded with moisture from exceptionally warm ocean waters.

This combination led to storms and prolonged and at times intense rainfall over the southern Murray–Darling Basin and Tasmania.

The large rainfall amounts, which in some areas broke historical records, fell on water-saturated soils which led to extensive riverine and pluvial flooding in the inland regions of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. 

The frequent wet weather conditions experienced in many parts of Australia over the past two years are driven by La Niña conditions, which generate above-average rainfall across much of northern and eastern Australia. La Niña conditions are currently forecast to extend into their third consecutive year in 2023.