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Thursday, 16 May 2013

Cyclone Mahasen - A Case Study

Cyclone Mahasen is beginning to make landfall in the Bay of Bengal today...

A useful study for A level students is below:

A quick reminder of Hurricane formation is here. The shallow coastal shelf and warm seas in the Bay of bengal will channel Cyclones and magnify their strength as they approach land.

The path of the storm and its storm surge can be seen below:

Tropical storms bring the fourfold hazard of strong winds, heavy rain, storm surges and large waves.As it goes these are not as severe as they could be since it satarted to make landfall at low tide and the winds have only been clocked at 60mph thus far. It has been reported as not being severe in twerms of these primary hazards but Bangladesh's low lying and flat terrain still make it susceptible to the secondary hazard of flooding from storm surges and the heavy rain may induce a secondary hazard - landslides.

Thus far, 2 people have been reported dead in Bangladesh and up to 50 Rohingya muslims being evacuated may have drowned as an evacuation boat capsized.
Dozens of houses collapsed in Patuakhali district as it inundated the land with waist deep water.
Though ti did not make landfall in Sri lanka, the heavy rain triggered mudslides and floods which killed 7 people.

Bangladeshi authorities have given out a warning level of 7 out of 10 for the incoming storm in the low lying areas around Chittagong and Cox's bazaar; a good example of identifying areas most at risk and focussing strategies to mitigate for hazard risk.
The main response has been the evacuation of large numbers of people from areas at risk. At least 956,372 people have been evacuated in Bangladesh to more than 3200 storm shelters. All schools and colleges and some hotels have been declared cyclone shelters. In Burma more than 160,00 people have been evacuated.
Bangladesh has also shut airports in the areas at risk.

Magnifying the Hazard
The presence of tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims displaced by internal conflict last year in temporary refugee camps in Rakhine state has increased the overall risk from this storm.

In terms of the strength of the primary hazards it is not as large as it could be, but the scale in terms of area covered is still large - affecting 3 countries and millions of people. By contrast the Tornadoes in Granby in Texas (link here) have kileld at least 6 as a result of much more forceful wind but have affected a much smaller area of land, thus decreasing the overall risk of the hazard.

A link to the BBC news story on the event is HERE

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