Case Study Summary_Mumenthaler

Case: My case study was on super typhoon Megi which was a category 5 typhoon. I chose it because I had lived in the Philippines for almost 2 years and it resonated with me. It made landfall on the Philippines, passed off the coast of Taiwan, and finally made landfall on mainland China. During its path south east of the Philippines and until it made its final landfall in China, it caused over $679 million in damages and killed 69 people in the Philippines and Taiwan, with no deaths in China. Overall, the storm was predicted well in advance, and alerts were regularly updated. Additionally, travel was suspended as necessary and schools were closed. When the storm passed, the respective governments stepped in to aid their people. Additionally, the Red Cross, Child United, and the United States stepped in to aid where they could. The United States sent USS. Essex Expeditionary Strike Group which had several warships in it to the Philippines to help with disaster relief.

Figure one demonstrates the path that typhoon Megi took.


Analysis: What made this storm so special and powerful was that it did not lose any force upon hitting the Philippines. This was largely in part to due to the incredibly warm waters that helped fuel this powerful typhoon. Additionally, when the typhoon neared Taiwan, it merged with an approaching storm and this resulted in extra heavy rainfalls which further devastated the country. However, the storm could have done a lot more harm, especially in China, where there were no deaths. This case just demonstrates how well prepared and used to typhoons most south east Asian countries are. Furthermore, with the aid of international aid organizations, the United States, and the countries respective governments there was good cohesion in tackling the crisis and rebuilding the countries.


Conclusion: Because these countries have a history of such disasters, they have developed effective methods of dealing with such issues, and the local People know what to do when these storms hit. The trickiest part in this case was that remote villages and farmers were hit the hardest, but governments were able to step in and help them rebuild and restore their livelihoods. If this case had taken place in the United States, or in Europe, where people have never experienced a typhoon, then the death and damage toll would have been a lot higher.

Colombia landslide: Rescue teams race to reach survivors

Case: After a deadly landslide in Columbia, more than 1000 soldiers, policemen, and rescue workers are searching survivors after more than 200 people died on Saturday. The cause of this landslide was heavy rainfall in the city of Mocoa. The army said in a statement that in addition to the 200 dead there were also more than 400 injured.  There are conflicting reports however, as the local media report 300 dead while the red cross reports 200 dead. The Colombian air force is working on getting supplies into the area to help survivors. There is a real issue because power lines have been cut and so has water, and local residents have reported that they have resorted to drinking rainwater.

Analysis: Heavy rainfall was the cause of this deadly landslide. More than a third of the regions monthly rainfall occurred in one evening. This caused the river to burst its banks and over-saturated the soil, causing it to liquefy and flow, leading to the landslide. To make maters worse, the debris flow was so fast that it carried many heavy objects with it, including lorries, which likely lead to a higher death toll. The heaviest rainfall was also during the night, which likely lead to the death toll being higher, as people were asleep when the flows hit their homes.


Conclusion: This area is known for having heavy rainfall, and in the last few months it, and surrounding regions had landslides. For example, just a month ago, in the town of Medellin, less than 500 km away, 9 people were killed by a landslide. Furthermore, as I reported in another of my posts, Peru which neighbors Columbia, had its own heavy rainfall and devastating landslides. Knowing all this, Columbia should have been much  better prepared for this. They saw what happened in Peru just a few weeks ago and should have evacuated residents close to the river and built flood defenses if they could. Furthermore there is quite a lack of communication and as the BBC reports, its hard to get verified reports as rescue operations have only really now begun in earnest. Another grave concern is that residents are resorting to drinking rain water, the government should have provided residents with water purifiers or water purification tablets, which literally cost less than a dollar a piece, and would save lives.  Finally, the fact that the air force has to bring in supplies shows that the town itself has no emergency supplies stored.

Michael Mumenthaler

Twenty teenagers die in Ghana waterfall accident

Introduction: After days of heavy rain and strong winds in Ghana, the soil had become quite saturated with water and much more susceptible to mass wasting.  As a result of these two factors, trees surrounding kitampo waterfall were not anchored securely into the ground. When there was a stronger updraft of wind, the trees broke free of the ground and were carried into the water and down the waterfall. These trees unexpectedly falling caused the deaths of the 20 teenagers.

Background: Normally trees are quite capable of holding themselves securely in the ground, and we rarely look at trees and expect them to fall at any minute. However, when there is a lot of rainfall, the soil becomes saturated with water and does not hold itself together as well. Now let us imagine a day old baguette, its super hard, but when you soak it in water for a couple hours, it becomes soggy and falls apart at the slightest touch, the same goes for the soil and the trees in it. It would not take a lot of wind to move these trees out of the soil and carry it with it.

Analysis: This waterfall is frequented often by locals who wish to cool off from the heat by lounging under the waterfall. However, the locals should have been educated better about the hazards associated with days of heavy rain as well as strong winds. Both these factors result in increased risk of mass wasting, flooding, and other dangers. As a result, the government should have warned about the increased risk level with being under the waterfall. Going forward, the government should educate about these dangers and post signs at this waterfall and other waterfalls across the country warning people not to use the river after days of heavy rain and or during strong winds.




Michael Mumenthaler

Deadly flooding in Peru sparks criticism over climate change preparedness


Unusually high temperatures in the Pacific Ocean are to blame for the latest flooding in Peru. It is some of the worst flooding in recent history. Killing and estimated 12 people, sweeping away vehicles and homes. This flooding comes after a serious drought and has completely caught the authorities by surprise. It has been raining the last three days, causing numerous rivers to burst their banks and subsequently causing mudslides. This is not the first such event this year, since January there have been 62 deaths, 11 missing and 12,000 destroyed homes. A local weather expert was interviewed and stated that these were highly unusual weather conditions and that the ocean was 5-6 degrees Celsius warmer than it would normally be. Peru was also ravaged by wildfires in November of last year, burning 12,000 hectares of land.


Because of global trends in rising temperatures there have been many documented cases where weather has been unpredictable or weather events were much stronger than they had been in the past. This was probably the reason for the wildfires in November as the warmer temperatures caused there to be dryer conditions and lead to a higher risk of fire, and these same warm temperatures then caused the storms to much more powerful as they draw their energy from warm water.



Global warming is likely to blame for both these events as higher temperatures have caused more stronger, more unpredictable weather events. However, the Peruvian authorities should have been on higher alert following the wildfires, because as we discussed in class, wildfires are a chemical process, and these fires definitely contributed to the flooding. Either by burning away vegetation which held the soil together, or making the soil itself impermeable, leading to runoff and more mass wasting. The best thing they could have done was to raise awareness about the heightened risk, and have communities have plans ready following the wildfires, in case there would be mass wasting and heavy rains following the drought.


Michael Mumenthaler

Alaska’s Bogoslof volcano explodes, warnings sent on North Asia-U.S. flights

A volcano (Bogoslof) in Alaska which has been erupting periodically since December has now released its biggest ash cloud to date. The eruption lasted for 3 hours and spewed ash up to an altitude of 35,000 feet. Ash clouds which are higher than 20,000 pose a threat to aircraft as the ash can damage the engines. This is the 36th eruption in 3 months. The Volcano is 850 miles from Anchorage and is during a high state of alert as more eruptions are possible at any time.




Michael Mumenthaler

Did Pinochet-era deregulation cause Chile’s worst-ever wildfires?

After the smoke cleared, over half a million acres of forest, bush, and grassland extinguished and 11 people dead. Who is to blame? Chile’s eucalyptus and pine plantation owners, accused of putting profit before safety. These fires, which were burning since January were some of the countries largest. The reason for this event? The plantations were much too large and close to communities and eucalyptus is known to burn well. Furthermore, the pine trees have highly flammable pine needles, not only the ones on the trees but also the ones that litter the ground. This is especially interesting because you would think that planting trees would make the environment healthier and less prone to hazards, but in this case it made matters worse. Moral of the story? Plant with more variety, with trees that would not burn as well.



Michael Mumenthaler

California storms: rains drench the north as south braces for huge hit

There are currently heavy rains in California, with meteorologists predicting the strongest storms in years to hit the south. The current rains in California are just the beginning of a dangerous atmospheric river which will hit the state. The storm is massive, stretching out over the Pacific. the forecast is that it will arrive Friday and last into Saturday. Flood warnings are in place for streams and creeks and there is a high wind warning for gusts up to 70 mph. Rainfall predictions range from 2-6 inches of rain. With the soil already being saturated from a particularly wet season, there are concerns that there will be flash flooding as well as debris flows. Furthermore, heavy snows are expected in the mountains and officials are keeping a nervous eye on the Oroville dam which already had its fair share of issues earlier this week.


Michael Mumenthaler

Extreme heat brings health, fire and power cut warnings across south-eastern Australia

After several days of record breaking heat waves in South Eastern Australia. Government officials have released warnings about the possibility of dangerous bush fires, and possible power cuts. Temperatures were as high as 48 Celsius (118 Fahrenheit). Fires were banned and severe fire warnings were in place for New South Wales. As a result, electricity demand has increased by more than 50% leading to some blackouts as the energy grid is put to the limit. There have been court hearings this week already in the Senate to discuss the energy grid and question representatives from the energy company. As a result of growing public discontent with the state of the power network. The heat wave is expected to last until Sunday of this week.




Michael Mumenthaler

Hotel collapses into river after torrential rains in Peru.

After almost a week of heavy rains in Peru, the La Hacienda Hotel in the Peruvian town of Lircay, which was built on a hill overlooking the Sicra river, collapsed into the river. The heavy rains and rising waters of the river caused catastrophic erosion of the hill, causing the hill to collapse, dragging the hotel with it. Luckily, no deaths or injuries were reported, as the hotel had been evacuated prior to the collapse of the hill.



Michael Mumenthaler

19 Confirmed dead as a result of winter tornadoes

More than 39 tornadoes raged across the south east after 2 days. Homes were destroyed, mobile homes were completely leveled. Most of the deaths occurred in Georgia, along with a couple in deaths in South Carolina. There were tornado touchdowns in the above mentioned as well as Mississippi, and Louisiana. What is really surprising for many people is that they do no expect tornadoes during this season, however, there is always a risk of them occurring in this area of the United States, as demonstrated here.



Michael Mumenthaler