Cyclone Cook is expected to take a direct hit on New Zealand by Thursday evening. The Bay of Plenty area in Auckland is already experiencing heavy flooded due to Cyclone Debbie that impacted the area last week. Two state of emergency’s have been declared for the Bay of Plenty and Thames-Coromandel districts, however, other areas are delaying a state of emergency declaration until they better know the severity of the storm. This is said to be the worst storm New Zealand has seen in decades and there are concerns that the people are not taking this threat as serious as needed. Power outages, storm surge, and extensive flooding are expected with winds up to 150 kph. Evacuations are already in place in low-lying areas on the East Coast of New Zealand.
Satellite images of the Burdekin river mouth on 12 March before Cyclone Debbie (left) and on 1 April (right) in the cyclone’s wake as the plume of flood waters makes its way to the sea. Photograph: WWF-Australia
Recently, the scientific community has expressed some concerns about the pollution that has been running off into the Great Barrier Reef that is the result of Cyclone Debbie. Last month, much of the runoff ended up collecting into the Queensland Coast. Andrew Brooks, associate professor at Griffith University, released photographs that depicted the scale of damage in the erosion-prone Burdekin catchment, as well as flood plumes from the Burdekin. Brooks findings suggest the cyclone Debbie impact on a 11,000 sq km stretch of the Burdekin, which is suggested to produce thirty percent of run-off to the reef. This is also an additional issue for the government. In the Burdekin, the collapse of a 20-metre high bank was one of the signs of Debbie was causing issues when blocks that were built to block the runoff had no impact.
According to Brooks, these gully systems produced an estimated 36,000 of sediment a year for 60 years after being opened up amid cattle grazing and road-building. “We know sediment can harm coral and sea grass by restricting light. Now we’re learning that sediment from this area also carries large loads of harmful nitrogen because it sticks to the sediment sourced from these same soils.” Brooks said he hoped state and federal governments continued to take erosion in the area seriously as it is a health issue for the community, and it can cause serious damage to the environment.
In the process of starting to repair Australia from the cyclone Debbie, it has been estimated that damage costs could run into the billions. Including the many homes that were destroyed, over 300 schools also need to be repaired. However, although things are being managed well with Cyclone Debbie, reports are also optimistic that the Fitzroy river would not surge to the peak of 9.4 meters later this week, which would have promised the worst floods in Rockhampton for decades. Although the possible flood for Fitzroy river has been decreased, the warning for the area is still being issued. Around 5,400 homes and businesses in the area, as well as railroads are under this area of warning. On Monday, crews will continue to go from home to home to inform people to evacuate.
Because of all of the damage that was caused from Cyclone Debbie, all of the 80,00 residents in the area will be urged to leave by Wednesday. The death toll has been surprisingly low in the wake of the disaster, only five deaths have been reported. Three men and two women were killed in separate incidents on Friday and Saturday. Three men and two women were killed in separate incidents on Friday and Saturday.Four of the deaths occurred in northern area. Lismore mayor Isaac Smith stated that the area looked like a, “war zone.” Lismore residents have been given the all-clear to return home but there were nine evacuation orders in place. Also, people have been warned to be wary of the water, as it may not be safe to drink. Authorities have stated that they understand people are irritated they aren’t allowed to return to their homes yet. It was interesting to me that so many people were willing to leave their homes because of the flooding. In some cases of natural disasters, one of the things that contribute to the deaths was people being unwilling to leave their homes despite warnings.
Low lying properties next to the swollen Fitzroy river in Rockhampton on Monday. Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP
Australia’s recent weeks of natural disasters have created Cyclone Debbie. Because the damage has been so extensive, officials are unclear of magnitude will be, also people have been warned that deaths may result. Despite these grim reports, the Queensland government has evacuated many individuals from dangerous areas. Weather experts are warning that things will not start to normalize until Wednesday evening. Although many of the homes that were built in Bowen had been built to withstand cyclones, it was reported that a majority of these houses were torn apart. This has caused a great deal of environmental damage. There continues to be ongoing rain in Bowen and surrounding areas which further contributes to making damage assessment difficult for experts to gage.
Although it has been difficult to determine the damage that Cyclone Debbie caused on a general scale, people who witnessed and felt the storm had a lot to report. Rosalind Willcocks, a local resident of Hideaway Bay described how destructive Debbie was. “It’s just destroyed our trees and our garden. The buildings are brick but we did lose a barbecue, fridge, things like that went flying off.” Tony Fontes, who is a tourist driver described a similar situation. He states that based on the wind, and the trees that he saw falling inti the water because of the storm, would cause damage to the coal reefs. Although he says that this has happened before, Fontes still sees this as an awful result that continues to mess with the environment. In a statement that was released by the Bureau of Meteorology, the most populated area at the southern edge of the cyclone watch zone, had missed out on a disastrous storm surge by only a small amount. Because the storm happened later than expected, rain did not cause as serious damage as was anticipated, but is estimated to continue until tomorrow.
Queensland’s premier described Cyclone Debbie as ‘incredibly scary’ and said the state would be feeling its impact for up to five days. Photograph: Bureau of Meteorology/EPA
“The extent of injuries from Cyclone Debbie is yet to be determined as Queensland’s police commissioner warned people to prepare for the possibility of deaths after the category-four storm struck the eastern coast of Australia. The scale of destruction was yet to emerge on Tuesday evening amid reports of severe damage to homes and communities cut off from communications.”
The core of Cyclone Debbie hit the coast near Airlie Beach in Australia with winds up equaling 263 km/h (163mph). This slow moving cyclone has ripped roofs off of homes and has caused extreme damage to trees and plants in resident’s yards. There has also been reports of backyard grills “flying off”. There was a forced evacuation for low-lying areas on Monday prior to the storm making landfall. Of the 25,000 people told to evacuate, it is not clear how many did. “In Bowen, where much of the local housing was built before cyclone safety standards were introduced in the 1980s, the cyclone wrecked homes and caused “major environmental damage”, Whitsunday regional councillor Mike Brunker said.”
Not only are their disaster issues on land and environmental concerns, but there are also concerns in the Great Barrier Reef.
“Fontes said he expected Cyclone Debbie would be a mixed development for the Great Barrier Reef. Local coral would be damaged but the stir of water would cool sea-surface temperatures now causing mass bleaching across the broader reef. We’ve seen cyclone damage to the reef before and it is awful,” he said. “Locally it’s a disaster but reef-wide it’s a good thing – I guess that’s the best way to look at it.”
Category 4 storm Cyclone Debbie is currently heading towards Australia’s northeastern Queensland coast. Residents of low-lying coastal areas in the storm’s path were urged to evacuate before it became too late, and an estimated 3,500 people have already left. The storm was expected to escalate to Category 5 status by its projected landfall Tuesday morning. Already, one death has been tied to the storm. Officials report that Debbie is the largest of its kind since 2011 Cyclone Yasi. Officials fear widespread flooding and extremely high winds powerful enough to blow cars away.
Read the NY Times story here.
The Bureau of Meteorology have warned residents of Queensland, Australia over an incoming category 4 tropical Cyclone, Debbie. This storm is expected to hit them between Sunday and Tuesday night. Officials of Queensland have advised residents to begin making preparations for this storm, as the Bureau is predicting that it could possibly turn into a category 5, should the winds speed up any more.
The director of Queensland’s regional bureau has stated that “If the cyclone was to speed up, it could [cause] impacts on the coast as early as Sunday night. Alternatively it could slow down, but the problem with that is that the longer time over the warmer waters of the Coral Sea could see it turn into a category five, I can’t rule that out.”
Meteorologists have been tracking this low pressure system over the Coral Sea for the past few days and are warning citizens, especially those in remote areas, to begin immediate preparation for evacuation, while extra emergency efforts and services are being put on standby.
The deputy police commissioner, Steve Gollschewski has stated that “This could go on for some days because we’re not just talking about a cyclone with wind; we’re also talking about potential flooding where there could be isolation and the like.”
Australia’s tracking and monitoring have proved useful in providing a timely warning to residents living in areas in the path of the storm. This type of mitigation, should the storm hit a category 4 or 5, will undoubtedly protect the citizens of Queensland as well as help to contain the damage and loss usually associated with these types of extreme weather events.
Good for you, Australia!
On March 7th a Cyclone named Enawo with wind speeds equal to a category 4 hurricane hit Madagascar. The wind speed estimated 145 mph and the heavy rain from this storm has caused severe flooding along the coastline. According to the GDACS this storm has a severity class 1 meaning there is a large flood event with significant damage to structures or agriculture and fatalities will occur. After researching the names of the areas impacted by this cyclone, they appear to be in very poor, undeveloped areas of Madagascar. Most of these areas have inadequate water supplies, extremely poor infrastructure and large populations which makes these areas extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, pre and post disaster.
The following description is from the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System from the start of the storm and as of March 13th:
Description: Tropical Cyclone ENAWO made landfall over north-eastern Madagascar on 7 March and then moved west south-west over land and towards the southern areas, crossing the country. Severe weather, including heavy rain, strong winds and storm surge, has been affecting the country, causing casualties and damage. As of 13 March, the Bureau National de Gestion des Risques et des Catastrophes (BNGRC) of Madagascar reported that the death toll has reached at least 50 people. They also reported 20 people missing, 195 people injured, 84 660 people displaced. The most affected regions due to strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge are Sava, Analamanga, Analanjirofo and Atsinanana. The Copernicus EMS was activated on 7 March. As of 13 March, the numbers of deaths and displaced people are those attributed to all effects of Tropical Cyclon ENAWO, not only to the connected flood events.
Tropical cyclone Alfred has recently formed in the Gulf of Carpentaria; it is now headed towards Australia. The storm is due to hit on Tuesday between Borroloola and the Northern Territory and Queensland border. Meteorologists expect winds of up to 100 km/hr and heavy precipitation, which will likely cause flooding in low-lying coastal areas as well as around the Carpentaria coastal rivers and the MacArthur river. This has caused some concern since several areas were already flooded due to the monsoon season; several communities are already isolated due to flooded roads. However, while many are prepared to evacuate, it is believed this won’t be necessary for the majority of citizens; only one community has deemed it necessary to evacuate so far. According to the manager of McArthur River Caravan Park, Annita Pohlman: “We’re just going to enjoy it and go with the flow, there’s not much we can do… On a positive note, fishing will be good once it’s all settled down.”