Dr Joshua Soderholm has always been intrigued by storms. As a boy, he would sit by a window in his house during the summer to watch storms approaching, and often watched them pass by, missing the house. He couldn’t predict exactly where the storm would hit, and to this day he encounters many challenges in observing and forecasting hailstorms. Hailstorm events account for greater than 30% of losses from ‘catastrophic’ events, and the ten largest hailstorms in Australia caused more than 17 billion dollars’ worth of losses as it can be detrimental to agriculture, private property, and commercial businesses. Our current warning systems rely on surveillance and efficient communication, financial insurance, and a response strategy, but we still have poor ability to forecast large hailstorms or predict the size of hail stones with current radar technology.
Imagine sweltering through four days of 40°C – 50°C temperatures. Or not being able to get home because flooding has disrupted rail and road networks. With the changing global climate, such scenarios are possible within the next 20 years. The question is: will Victoria be resilient to these challenges? This is the problem senior government officials and researchers gathered together to answer. RSV’s inaugural Future Thinking Forum saw representatives from over 35 agencies, including universities and government, meet to discuss Victoria’s capacity to cope with extreme weather. The proceedings began with the description of two possible extreme weather scenarios: a severe heatwave and an extreme flooding and wind event. These scenarios were not one of a distant future, nor were they from a dystopian, Eco-Disaster novel. They could be Victoria’s reality within the next two decades.