Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tropical Cyclone Nargis: Get Ready for the Worst

We all remember (I hope) November's Cyclone Sidr, the deadliest global hurricane in a decade, which killed more than 3,000 people after making a powerful landfall in Bangladesh. After that, you would think this vulnerable region would get a break – but Cyclone Nargis may have other ideas.
This storm, which formed over the weekend, is now a Category 1, and the official forecast right now is for steady intensification up to Category 4 at least. No one is sure where the storm will make landfall, but India, Bangladesh, and Burma/Myanmar all have worrying to do.

And according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, there's nothing else in the atmosphere ocean system that will interfere with Nargis either – as the agency predicts, "THE STORM WILL INCREASE IN INTENSITY THROUGHOUT THE FORECAST PERIOD DUE TO FAVORABLE OCEAN HEAT CONTENT, LOW VERTICAL WIND SHEAR, AND GOOD POLEWARD OUTFLOW."

Much of the world has been relatively quiet of late for hurricanes – but it's important to bear in mind that that has not been the case for the North Indian region. First came 2007's shocking Category 5 Arabian Sea cyclone, Gonu; then came Sidr; and now, here's Nargis. This puts me in mind of my last post, about Kerry Emanuel's most recent work: It suggests that in our changing world, the different hurricane basins of the world will respond very differently to climate change. Storms may also be fewer, but stronger when they do occur.

Right or wrong, that's a prediction that will certainly resonate for the Indian Ocean region of late.

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