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El Niņo Effects on Fatalities from Natural Disasters in Australia
Kuhnel, I. and Coates, L.  2000.  El Niņo-Southern Oscillation: Related probabilities of fatalities from natural perils in Australia.  Natural Hazards 22: 117-138.

What was done
The authors analyzed flood, bushfire and heatwave fatality data for eastern Australia over the period 1876-1991, calculating probabilities of fatalities occurring during El Niņo and La Niņa periods.

What was learned
La Niņa periods had a mean of 9.8 fatality event days per year, while El Niņo periods had a mean of 9.1 fatality event days per year.  In addition, it was determined that the probability of reaching the mean annual fatality event day number of 8.5 was 57% for La Niņa years but only 46% for El Niņo years.

What it means
Much is made in the popular press about adverse weather conditions experienced during periods when El Niņos hold sway over the earth, as opposed to when opposite La Niņa conditions prevail.  There is mounting evidence, however, that many of these claims are erroneous (see, for example, our Journal Reviews 1997-98 El Niņo Impacts for the United States, Assessing Atlantic Hurricane Damage in the USA, and The El Niņo-Hurricane Connection).  This analysis adds to the growing list of studies that objectively demonstrate that hazardous weather conditions are actually less likely to occur during El Niņo conditions than during La Niņa conditions.