Cyclone Nargis death toll in the tens of thousands

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:42 PM GMT on May 06, 2008

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A disaster of staggering magnitude continues to unfold in Myanmar, where the death toll from Tropical Cyclone Nargis exceeds 22,000. In one city alone--Bogalay, about 50 miles southwest of the capital of Yangon--10,000 people are thought to have died. Bogalay is a decrepit city of 100,000 that lies at the head of a estuary that leads to the sea. No doubt this narrow waterway served to funnel a storm surge over ten feet high into the city. News reports have not yet been received from the coast southeast of Yangon, which also received a significant storm surge, and the toll from Nargis is certain to go much higher.

Nargis hit the coast of Myanmar Friday night as powerful Category 3 cyclone with winds of 130 mph. The cyclone took the worst possible track, passing directly over the densely populated and low lying Irrawaddy River delta. A deadly storm surge--probably around 12 feet high--inundated the delta region, accounting for most of the deaths. The storm's fierce winds killed many more. The only fortunate thing about Nargis was its small size. Hurricane-force winds covered an area about 90 miles in diameter (Figure 1). In contrast, the wind field of Katrina at landfall spanned an area about 205 miles in diameter. Winds from both storms at landfall were about the same (strong Category 3), but Katrina's winds covered an area four times larger than Nargis.



Figure 1. The wind field (black contours, in knots) of Nargis shortly after landfall, when it was a Category 3 storm with top winds of 105 knots (120 mph). Hurricane force winds (red wind barbs) spanned an area about 90 miles in diameter. Image credit: CSU/CIRA/RAMMB.

Loss of the rice harvest
Nargis' arrival came at the worst time possible, during the winter bora rice crop harvest. This crop, planted in January, and very heavily focused in the Irrawaddy River delta, was significantly affected by Nargis. Rice prices have nearly tripled in the past year, and now Myanmar must wait until the summer rice crop is harvested in September and October before adequate supplies of rice will be at hand. The impact will spread beyond Myanmar, since they export rice to Banladesh and Sri Lanka, according to Reuters.

Comments from Chris Burt
I've been in regular communication about this disaster with Chris Burt, author of the excellent book Extreme Weather. He has been visiting Myanmar every year for 30 years, and has much insight on the situation there:

Note this: No word yet about casualties from the Mon or Karen States; those areas not in the Delta region but to the SE of Rangoon where a major storm surge and flooding from rains may have occurred.

The government considers these areas 'minority states' and these states have traditionally been looked down upon by ethnic Burmese, They are heavily populated. I will bet they will be the last areas to receive aid, and the last regions from which we hear news so far as storm damage is concerned.

I might add this is indicative of just how bad the situation in Burma is. People who are not aware of the isolation of Myanmar, one of the largest most populated countries in the world, will not be able to grasp the gravity of this disaster. It is a country under the thumb of complete ignorants: the leaders of this county have NEVER traveled outside of Burma before. They have no education whatsoever. They live in a dream world of astrology and have maintained their control by funneling all the nation's vast resources to crony patronage and the military. China is their only steadfast friend in the international arena. Even Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and India who do business with this regime do so at hands length.

If you can understand what I am saying here you will understand just how bad the situation is.

Jeff Masters

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685. hurricane23
9:09 PM EDT on May 07, 2008
679. StormJunkie 9:03 PM EDT on May 07, 2008
Thanks Pat!

Dr M looks like he has somehow gotten back some of that hair that he may have lost during his Hugo flight. :~)

lol!
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684. Patrap
8:07 PM CDT on May 07, 2008
Nothing like seeing surge Video from the ones who go thru it.
One can rest assured they learned the Hard way.
One can lose everything ..but to lose ones life is avoidable.
Evactuation is easy if one plans for it.

Urge others to follow your lead.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125681
683. StormJunkie
1:07 AM GMT on May 08, 2008
lmao pat ☺
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682. melwerle
12:58 AM GMT on May 08, 2008
Thanks for that Patrap...we're outta here if that happens in this area. No motor boat - a sail boat...we're okay but not that good to avoid power lines with a 23 foot mast...good footage - I'm saving that one...
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681. Drakoen
1:05 AM GMT on May 08, 2008
Thanks Alot Patrap!
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680. Patrap
8:03 PM CDT on May 07, 2008
A "Hairy" Flight that was SJ! ..LOL
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679. StormJunkie
12:59 AM GMT on May 08, 2008
Thanks Pat!

Dr M looks like he has somehow gotten back some of that hair that he may have lost during his Hugo flight. :~)
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678. atmoaggie
12:53 AM GMT on May 08, 2008
Gore: “It’s also important to note that the emerging consensus among the climate scientists is although any individual storm can’t be linked singularly to global warming – we’ve always had hurricanes,” Gore said. “Nevertheless, the trend toward more Category 5 storms – the larger ones and trend toward stronger and more destructive storms appears to be linked to global warming and specifically to the impact of global warming on higher ocean temperatures in the top couple of hundred feet of the ocean, which drives convection energy and moisture into these storms and makes them more powerful.”

He IS hedging his bets in this, but the point is still that he is using this storm, and it's misery, to push his agenda with no proven link to tie the cause/effect together. The link is still highly debatable and not completely proven...scientifically, only by Gore's selected concensus group.

I put this up there with Georgia's president whining for a playoff less than a day after LSU wins the BCS. There are more tactful times.
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677. StormJunkie
12:54 AM GMT on May 08, 2008
Drak...656...I had trouble viewing in FireFox. I did get it to work in IE though. That said, I missed the interview cause I was out picking up dinner.

Evening and good to see ya wannabe ☺

They need to do a lot of stuff, but as someone else said, we often don't do the things we need to do.

A note on Nargis and the government response. To me it seems that the easiest and most effective thing they could have done to prevent this massive death total would have been to build adequate shelters throughout the delta region. I say this because they know they can not inform everyone fast enough, and even if they could they do not have the resources or capability to evac such a large area.
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676. Patrap
7:57 PM CDT on May 07, 2008
Dr. Jeff Masters Interview from this Hour..recorded Live as it ran.



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675. sebastianjer
8:57 PM EDT on May 07, 2008


source

Mo warmer waters here though

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674. Patrap
7:55 PM CDT on May 07, 2008
The Vacarellas Had a Boat here too,and the Neighbor.Worth the wait to the 2 Minute mark on this one from Aug 29th 2005

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673. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
12:54 AM GMT on May 08, 2008
At 9:00 AM JST, Tropical Storm Rammasun (0802) [996 hPa] located near 8.6N 131.0E had 10 minute sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts up to 60 knots. The storm was reported moving northwest slowly.

Gale Force Winds within 120 NM from the center

Forecast Intensity and Position
===============================
24 HRS: 11.0N 130.0E - 50 knots [CAT 2]
48 HRS: 14.3N 129.5E - 65 knots [CAT 3]
69 HRS: 18.1N 129.4E - 80 knots [CAT 3]

edit: oops, 80 knots is still considered Category 3 to the JMA.
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672. Patrap
7:53 PM CDT on May 07, 2008
Im uploading the video of Dr. Masters and will post it as soon as it is processed.
Look back a few post to see the TV Link.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125681
671. melwerle
12:50 AM GMT on May 08, 2008
I have read over and over again here that you should "run from the water" but I have to say - I live in a town that has been relatively unaffected by hurricanes - we are only about 10 feet above sea level where I live and yet folks are saying they would stay and that nothing will hit here - no matter when the gov't says -they just don't believe it. I know Sav hasn't been hit here in a very long time but I do believe it's possible and if I hear a Cat 1 is heading our way, I'm gone. It will be a huge fight but we are two blocks away from the intracoastal and I'm not willing to take the chance. I just don't think folks understand the flooding issues. I keep telling hubby - would you rather leave or listen to me rag on you for 5 days on top of the roof with three kids, three dogs and our mom...telling "i told you so."

His response..."we have a boat"
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670. StormJunkie
12:47 AM GMT on May 08, 2008
Drak...656...I had trouble viewing in FireFox. I did get it to work in IE though. That said, I missed the interview cause I was out picking up dinner.

Evening and good to see ya wannabe ☺

They need to do a lot of stuff, but as someone else said, we often don't do the things we need to do.

A note on Nargis and the government response. To me it seems that the easiest and most effective thing they could have done to prevent this massive death total would have been to build adequate shelters throughout the delta region. I say this because they know they can not inform everyone fast enough, and even if they could they do not have the resources or capability to evac such a large area.
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669. aspectre
12:12 AM GMT on May 08, 2008
sigh... Ya never even bothered to read past the headline, didja howarjo1943?
Jes cuz a paid-to-be-whacko posts creative*misinterpretation on the Web don' mean ya hafta repeat it as Gospel.
Gore's FreshAir interview is available online.

[deleted my question cuz Patrap already answered it]

* also known as lying
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667. weathermanwannabe
6:40 PM CST on May 07, 2008
665. atmoaggie 6:38 PM CST on May 07, 2008
Coastal restoration is the first Line of Defense for Surge way before the Levee Protection System.


Here in Florida, and I am not an expert on Zoning Laws and the exact way of how the law works, but, coastal developers have to pay to help "restore" a certain amount of Mangrove shoreline areas whenever their developments are built on the coast and displace natural shorline barriers......I think that the "loophole" is that the restoration projects are usually in envirnmentally sensitive areas which are not threatened/protected against coastal developments anyway........They really need to put a moratorium on any new coastal developments, particularly, on coastal barrier islands and coastal wetlands in hurricane prone areas.........
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666. Patrap
7:42 PM CDT on May 07, 2008
Should be interesting to see the data results from that atmo.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125681
665. atmoaggie
12:32 AM GMT on May 08, 2008
Coastal restoration is the first Line of Defense for Surge way before the Levee Protection System.

Pat Fitzpatrick is running ADCIRC right now working out some of the details behind a number of hypothetical storms and the impact of wetland area on the surge. Currently using ADCIRC's ability to handle changes in frictional flow over differing land-use designations.

Working out some kinks, but should have some results soon, at least by the IHC (Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference) next year (March?)
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664. Patrap
7:30 PM CDT on May 07, 2008
Thanx for mentioning about Louisiana coastal wetland loss and its impact on Katrina's surge Dr. Masters.
Coastal restoration is the first Line of Defense for Surge way before the Levee Protection System.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125681
663. atmoaggie
12:20 AM GMT on May 08, 2008
Al Gore is now saying that global warming caused Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar; AS IF the Bay of Bengal has never had a devastating cyclone before. Nice way to shamelessly try to take advantage of other peoples misery for your own personal gain AL. As a degreed meteorologist, I find these claims are laughable, and I am appalled that so many blindly follow along with this piece of trash.

Amen and well said. Al Gore's Warming (AGW) has a lot in common with Louisiana politics. Policy and public opinion that benefits the policy maker more than anyone else but on a much grander scale. Most of the time common sense and real concern for the fellow citizen are left behind.

Thanks, Pat. Came on too late to open the video link.
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662. Drakoen
12:24 AM GMT on May 08, 2008
659. Patrap 12:20 AM GMT on May 08, 2008
I will upload it thru YouTube and Post.


Thanks
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661. weathermanwannabe
5:55 PM CST on May 07, 2008
Just saw Dr. M on Aljazeera........Good for You Dr. M.....Nice Job in spite of the very "choppy" questions, from the Newsman....You make a good case for "restoration" of coastal Mangrove barriers that have been mowed down in many areas/places in the name of coastal development, or, agriculture and a great example as to LA.....Don't mess with Mother Nature......
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660. severstorm
8:16 PM EDT on May 07, 2008
good and to the point inteveiw. wish they would not of said shrimp farm cause thats my trade
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659. Patrap
7:19 PM CDT on May 07, 2008
I will upload it thru YouTube and Post.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125681
658. severstorm
8:13 PM EDT on May 07, 2008
i instulled it and i got the news on there
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657. Patrap
7:13 PM CDT on May 07, 2008
Try the Link and select the low bit data rate.Link
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656. Drakoen
12:11 AM GMT on May 08, 2008
I installed the player and still can't access the it...
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655. Patrap
7:08 PM CDT on May 07, 2008
I used a lil round trip..Try the Link here for Jeff Masters Interview.


Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125681
654. severstorm
7:55 PM EDT on May 07, 2008
TEXAS GULF completely agree with you and i am not holding my breath just telling what i hear kool
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653. funeeeg
11:53 PM GMT on May 07, 2008
howarjo1943 11:28 PM GMT on May 07, 2008
I voted Kerry 04 and have seen Obama twice. I have a bumper sticker that says "Gas 4 dollars a gallon, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" So yeah, I am a democrat. It just pains me to see most of my friends and many of my collegues that I graduated with blindly follow Al Gore just because he is a democrat and republicans hate him. When I clicked on yahoo, and saw this latest Al Gore disgrace I guess it just flooded in how ridiculous(and possibly desperate after the harsh winter) this guy is to convince people that we are doomed by a negligent amount of CO2. It shouldn't be a political issue, but obviously it is.


Of course it should be a political issue, what planet are you living on? Please don't muddle science with your own personal prejudices.
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652. pearlandaggie
11:56 PM GMT on May 07, 2008
i agree with you though, howard...Dr. M. needs to lay off the AGW talk if he expects it not to permeate his tropical weather blog....
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651. pearlandaggie
11:53 PM GMT on May 07, 2008
I am a democrat.

eeeeek! how can you live with yourself? :)
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650. TexasGulf
11:43 PM GMT on May 07, 2008
all though i did hear that prices should stablize by the end of the year per my friend at bp oil. now how do they know that!!!!

Perhaps BP has decided to stop having plant 'incidents', repair worn equipment and replace deteriorated piping.

That's just my opinion. I wouldn't hold my breath though. Having federal safety investigators helping you run your daily plant operations isn't good for production numbers.
:>O
Member Since: April 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 354
649. nrtiwlnvragn
11:53 PM GMT on May 07, 2008
NOAA is accepting public comments on the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project (shrinking the cone 50%, 7 day forecast, intensity, etc.)
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648. StormJunkie
11:49 PM GMT on May 07, 2008
JF, I think you will select the WATCH NOW in the upper left of that page at 8:00 and then at some point Dr M will be on for 5 minutes.
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647. CaneAddict
11:46 PM GMT on May 07, 2008
By the looks of things, The Atlantic is warming quite a bit...
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645. StormJunkie
11:44 PM GMT on May 07, 2008
Well I was planning on watching Dr M, but can not get FF to accept the Real Player plug in...Arghh
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644. howarjo1943
11:29 PM GMT on May 07, 2008
Anyway I think I am going to tune into Al Jazeera and watch Dr Masters unless he starts talking about global warming. Dr M, wake up and smell the coffee about Global Warming before you end up looking like Hillary Clinton trying to explain why she voted for the Iraq war.
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642. severstorm
7:32 PM EDT on May 07, 2008
Really when you think about it whos going to stop the oil companys from increasing prices. not one of the candidates running imho can do anything. all though i did hear that prices should stablize by the end of the year per my friend at bp oil. now how do they know that!!!!
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641. Patrap
6:34 PM CDT on May 07, 2008
Looking forward to the interview. Awesome, we get to hear Dr. Masters remarks on Nargis Live.

Thanks for the heads up.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125681
640. howarjo1943
11:15 PM GMT on May 07, 2008
I voted Kerry 04 and have seen Obama twice. I have a bumper sticker that says "Gas 4 dollars a gallon, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" So yeah, I am a democrat. It just pains me to see most of my friends and many of my collegues that I graduated with blindly follow Al Gore just because he is a democrat and republicans hate him. When I clicked on yahoo, and saw this latest Al Gore disgrace I guess it just flooded in how ridiculous(and possibly desperate after the harsh winter) this guy is to convince people that we are doomed by a negligent amount of CO2. It shouldn't be a political issue, but obviously it is.
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639. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
11:25 PM GMT on May 07, 2008
Wow Jeff Masters on arabic radio/television network.. :0
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638. severstorm
7:15 PM EDT on May 07, 2008
nothing will change in the gov. till we can get all of congress to quit fighting against each other need a real president. wow quit warm where you are patrap only 91.9 here in z-hills fl.
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637. pearlandaggie
11:14 PM GMT on May 07, 2008
how come no one ever questions Al Gorelione's carbon offset (read indulgences) or ethanol investments?
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636. pearlandaggie
11:10 PM GMT on May 07, 2008
634. you don't sound like much of a democrat...maybe you're more conservative thatn you know! :) they call 'em "Texas Democrats" down here...
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635. StormJunkie
11:05 PM GMT on May 07, 2008
Thanks for the update Dr M. That should be interesting.

Year to year SST comparison maps are back up, and by the looks of things temps are comparable to a past year I will not mention
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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