Australia’s Natural Disasters tells many stories of the devastation that nature has wreaked on our wild country and its people. From the agonies of droughts and floods to the shocks of earthquakes and bush fires, Australia is a country famed as much for its ferocious natural hazards as for its rich environment. Freak weather has caused plane crashes and shipwrecks. On Christmas Eve 1974 Darwin pubs were bursting with festive people joking that ‘cyclones never hit Darwin.’ Cyclone Tracy was expected to be another ‘near miss.’ But in the early hours of Christmas Day the slow-moving tropical cyclone tore the city apart, with sustained winds of 200 kilometres per hour, and Darwin became another victim of nature. Cyclone Tracy is only one of the many extreme weather events that Australia has been subjected to.
Richard (Dick) Whitaker began his career in meteorology when he started with the Bureau of Meteorology way back in 1971. He worked his way through the ranks and was Senior Forecaster in the NSW office for a nine-year period before becoming NSW Manager of the Bureau's commercial arm, the Special Services Unit in 1993. He is very interested in meteorological education, particularly through television, radio, and books, and has authored, co-authored, and edited twelve meteorological publications. Dick is a now Senior Meteorologist with The Weather Channel in Australia and appears regularly on TV.