Tropical cyclones in world’s two parts bring misery to millions: UN agency

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 29 (APP):Two powerful cyclones are bringing misery to millions of people in opposite parts of the world — Hurricane ‘Ian’ in western Cuba as it heads for the US state of Florida, and Typhoon Noru hit the Philippines en route to Vietnam, the UN Meteorological agency has said.

The tropical cyclones came quick on the heels of Hurricane Fiona, which caused deadly flooding in the Caribbean and was the strongest storm on record to hit Canada. Typhoon Nanmadol, prompted the evacuation of nine million people in Japan.

Pakistan was hit by climate-induced floods last month, killing more than 1,500 people and displacing 30 million, besides causing huge infrastructure damage.

Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Organization (WHO) has reminded that climate change is expected to increase the proportion of major tropical cyclones worldwide, and to increase the heavy rainfall, causing sea level rise and worsening the impact of coastal flooding.

“The human and socio-economic impacts of these cyclones will be felt for years,” warned Cyrille Honore, WMO Director of Disaster Risk Reduction and Public Services branch.

More than three million people have been affected, according to the UN.

According to WMO, Cuban President Miguel Díaz Canel said that the damage caused by Hurricane ‘Ian’ will likely be significant, though only preliminary assessments have been carried out.

There were no immediate reports of casualties. But there was severe damage to infrastructure, housing, agriculture, and telecommunications, with power reportedly lost to the entire country. Pinar del Rio, the hardest hit province, is home to 75 per cent of the country’s tobacco production – a key export for Cuba – and about 40 per cent of the nation’s bean production.

Ian is intensifying rapidly and is now a very strong category 4 hurricane (maximum sustained winds near 155 mph with higher gusts). It is expected to maintain this intensity.

Ian is the first hurricane to make landfall in mainland United States this season.

The US national weather service warned of catastrophic wind damage near the core of Ian when it moves onshore and of life-threatening storm surge and catastrophic flooding.

The combination of storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline, according to expert forecasts. The water could reach up to 12 to 16 feet in the worst affected areas.

Heavy rainfall will spread across central and northern Florida through Thursday as it is forecasted to slow its forward motion. Ian is forecast to reach portions of the US Southeast later this week and this weekend (1-2 October).

Catastrophic flooding is expected across portions of central Florida with considerable flooding in, northern Florida, south-eastern Georgia and coastal South Carolina.

“Ian poses an exceptional threat because of its size, its strength and its landfall in a heavily populated, low-lying area”, WMO has warned.

Meanwhile, in the eastern hemisphere, Typhoon Noru, known in the Philippines as Karding, hit the northeastern part of the Philippines on 25 September as a “super typhoon” with sustained winds of 195 121 mph before tracking across the main island of Luzon on 25 September.

More than two million people live in the worst affected areas, according to a disaster analysis, and nearly 430,000 people were directly impacted. Despite the relatively short space of time for mobilization, thousands of people were successfully evacuated, limiting loss of life.

From 26-27 September, typhoon Noru made its way towards Vietnam, and intensified once again.

WMO underscored that accurate early warnings and coordinated early action are proving key to limiting casualties during extreme weather events such as Hurricane Ian, Fiona and Thyphoon Noru.

“It is more important than ever that we scale up action on early warning systems to build resilience to current and future climate risks in vulnerable communities,” WMO Secretary-General, Prof. Petteri Taalas, said.