When one examines the past decade, a specific phenomenon stands out in terms of its devastating effects on global environments and populations: cyclones. The global temperature shifts, rising sea levels, and changing atmospheric patterns have contributed to the increasing intensity of these cyclonic events. This review aims to shed light on the most destructive cyclones that swept across various regions between 2017 and 2023.
Understanding Cyclones: A Brief Overview
Cyclones, commonly referred to as hurricanes or typhoons depending on the region, are massive rotating storm systems that form over warm ocean waters. The energy from the warm water is the driving force behind these powerful natural disasters.
How do cyclones form?
- Warm ocean waters cause the air above it to heat up and rise.
- This creates a vacuum below, which is filled by cooler air.
- The cycle of warm air rising and cool air filling in leads to a spinning effect, creating the cyclone.
Some Major Cyclone From 2017 to 2023
Hurricane Harvey (2017): A Category 4 hurricane that made landfall in Texas on August 25, 2017. Harvey caused widespread flooding and damage, with total losses estimated at $125 billion.
Hurricane Irma (2017): A Category 5 hurricane that made landfall in Florida on September 10, 2017. Irma caused widespread damage in Florida, the Caribbean, and the Bahamas, with total losses estimated at $77.2 billion.
Hurricane Maria (2017): A Category 5 hurricane that made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. Maria caused widespread damage in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, with total losses estimated at $91.6 billion.
Hurricane Florence (2018): A Category 4 hurricane that made landfall in North Carolina on September 14, 2018. Florence caused widespread flooding and damage in North Carolina and South Carolina, with total losses estimated at $24.5 billion.
Hurricane Michael (2018): A Category 5 hurricane that made landfall in Florida on October 10, 2018. Michael caused widespread damage in Florida and the southeastern United States, with total losses estimated at $25.0 billion.
Hurricane Dorian (2019): A Category 5 hurricane that made landfall in the Bahamas on September 1-8, 2019. Dorian caused widespread damage in the Bahamas, the Carolinas, and the Mid-Atlantic states, with total losses estimated at $32.8 billion.
Hurricane Laura (2020): A Category 4 hurricane that made landfall in Louisiana on August 27, 2020. Laura caused widespread damage in Louisiana and Texas, with total losses estimated at $19.1 billion.
Delta (2020): A Category 2 hurricane that made landfall in Louisiana on October 9, 2020. Delta caused widespread damage in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, with total losses estimated at $2.5 billion.
Ida (2021): A Category 4 hurricane that made landfall in Louisiana on August 29, 2021. Ida caused widespread damage in Louisiana, Mississippi, and the Mid-Atlantic states, with total losses estimated at $50.2 billion.
Elsa (2022): A Category 1 hurricane that made landfall in Florida on July 7, 2022. Elsa caused widespread damage in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, with total losses estimated at $1.5 billion.
Alex (2023): A Category 1 hurricane that made landfall in Florida on June 5, 2023. Alex caused widespread damage in Florida, with total losses estimated at $1.3 billion.
Cyclones by the Summary
Below is a simple text table highlighting the major cyclones in the past decade, their locations, and the estimated damages:
|Year||Name||Category||Landfall Date||Landfall Location||Max sustained wind speed (mph)||Minimum central pressure (mb)||Total damage (USD)||Fatalities|
|2017||Harvey||Category 4||August 25||Rockport, Texas||130||970||$125 billion||107|
|2017||Irma||Category 5||September 10||Cudjoe Key, Florida||180||914||$77.2 billion||134|
|2017||Maria||Category 5||September 20||Yabucoa, Puerto Rico||175||900||$91.6 billion||2,975|
|2018||Florence||Category 4||September 14||Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina||130||966||$24.5 billion||50|
|2018||Michael||Category 5||October 10||Mexico Beach, Florida||160||919||$25.0 billion||18|
|2019||Dorian||Category 5||September 1-8||The Bahamas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina||185||920||$32.8 billion||74|
|2020||Laura||Category 4||August 27||Cameron, Louisiana||150||941||$19.1 billion||36|
|2020||Delta||Category 2||October 9||Lake Charles, Louisiana||110||970||$2.5 billion||8|
|2021||Ida||Category 4||August 29||Port Fourchon, Louisiana||150||920||$50.2 billion||95|
|2022||Elsa||Category 1||July 7||Cedar Key, Florida||85||1000||$1.5 billion||3|
|2023||Alex||Category 1||June 5||Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida||85||1003||$1.3 billion||3|
Coastal erosion and infrastructure damage, especially in less economically robust regions, faced immense challenges post the cyclone. Small towns suffered loss of power, clean water scarcity, and disruption of daily life.
Communities, in anticipation of such events, started building cyclone-resistant shelters. Additionally, they implemented early-warning systems to give residents adequate time to evacuate. The “Hilary Response Program” initiated by local NGOs facilitated the distribution of relief goods and helped in rebuilding efforts.
Protecting Ourselves: Adapting to the New Norm
Prevention and Preparedness
A key lesson from the past decade is the crucial role of prevention and preparedness. Investing in better infrastructure, developing advanced forecasting techniques, and educating communities about evacuation plans are all essential components.
Stay Informed: Regularly monitor local weather forecasts and be alert to warnings.
Have an Evacuation Plan: Identify safe locations and evacuation routes in advance.
Build an Emergency Kit: Stock up on essential supplies including food, water, medications, and first-aid.
The increasing frequency and intensity of cyclones over the past decade necessitates global efforts towards mitigation and preparedness. With a concerted effort from governments, organizations, and communities, we can safeguard our future against the destructive wrath of nature.