11.04.11

Cyclones Firing Up Again In Gulf Of Oman

Posted in Global Warming And Hurricanes, Indian Ocean, Hurricane Anomalies at 4:20 pm by gmachos

Remnants Of Tropical Cyclone Keila Brings Heavy Rains And Gusty Winds

While the Hurricane Season is winding down in the Atlantic Basin, things are getting interesting in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and Gulf of Oman region.  Over the past few days, Tropical Storm Keila has dissipated into a remnant low, but it has been producing torrential rains and gusty winds along the Oman and Yemen border.

Of all the basins on the planet, the Indian Ocean produces the fewest storms in comparison to the Western Pacific, Eastern Pacific, and Atlantic.  However, because of the low lying terrain that lies along the Indian Ocean including the shallow depth of water along coastlines.  Places such as Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh are known for their devastating and deadly cyclones that have left tens and even hundreds of thousands dead.  Such storms have been the reasons for wars in that part of the world.

The most deadly of these cyclones was the one that struck Bangladesh back in November 1970.  Then called East Pakistan, the country was struck by a powerful cyclone that left between 300,000 and 500,000 dead.  The geopolitical ramifications from this storm were tremendous.  Due to the lack of response by the central government of Pakistan, which was based in the western part of the country, East Pakistan declared its independence, and war erupted.  Neighboring India became involved, and the result of the conflict was the rise to power of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Recently, there have been some notable cyclones.  One was in early June, 2007 when Cyclone Gonu threatened Oman.  At one point, the storm was as powerful as a Category Five Hurricane with 160 mile per hour winds.  It was rare to see such a powerful storm in that part of the world at that time of year because weather conditions in that part of the world are usually not favorable to such strong storms.   In addition, Oman and Yemen are on the Arabian Peninsula, which is desert.  Remember, tropical storms don’t like dry air.  Another notable cyclone in the past few years was the one that struck the Myammar Republic in May 2008.

The cyclone struck as the equivalent of a Category Three Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with 120 mile per hour winds.  The storm may have left 100,000 dead, but the actual death toll is not know due to the very isolated military government in Myammar, which not only refused to help its own people, but also kept the media from coming in to cover the disaster.   Returning to Keila, the storm has not had a very long life.  It formed as a tropical depression on October 29th, and has basically hugged the coast of Oman over the past couple of days.

Keila has strengthened to become the equivalent of a minimal tropical storm before moving into the interior of Oman.  According to the article on the web site, Earthweek:  Diary of a Planet, the storm has left 6 dead from flash flooding.  Tropical Cyclones are quite rare in the Arabian Sea region.  Storms only form during two brief periods each year.  However, there has been a growing concern that pollution created by the industries in the growing economic power of India is creating more favorable climatic conditions in the Arabian Sea for powerful storms like the one in June 2007.

Looking at the latest satellite imagery out of that part of the world, there appears to be another tropical disturbance in the making to the east of Keila in the heart of the Indian Ocean.

05.10.08

Parallels Between Myanmar In 2008 And Pakistan In 1971

Posted in General, Commentary, GWC News, Indian Ocean at 11:57 pm by gmachos

Good evening. I have been watching events unfold this past week in Southeast Asia, and after reading the book written by MIT Professor, Kerry Emanuel, called Divine Wind that had an excerpt on the November 1971 Cyclone that left some 300,000 people dead in East Pakistan, all I could think of was how similar these situations were. Now while it is true that Pakistan’s military regime then and now was not as secretive as that of the current ruling military junta in the Myanmar Republic, you can’t help but think of how both failed to help the people they were supposed to serve, and that these regimes were more interested in maintaining power. However, one has to wonder the potential internal and geopolitical problems that the inability of the Myanmar government to get the tons of essential aid that has been shipped in from nearby Thailand as well as far away places such as the United States have produced.

Back in 1971 in South Asia there was a great deal of tension. Both India and Pakistan had battled in two wars since the two countries were formed in 1947 after the work of Gandhi earned them both their independence from the British crown. The two countries fought over the disputed Kashmir region back in 1948 and 1965, and eventually went to war again later in 1971 thanks to the civil war that developed in Pakistan. Back then, Pakistan was divided into two parts: West Pakistan, which lay to the north and west of India, and East Pakistan, which was located to the East. When the devastating cyclone struck in November 1971, and the central Pakistani government, which was situated in West Pakistan, failed to respond adequately and effectively, those that survived the terrible storm demanded autonomy. Consequently, war broke out through the Islamic country, and refugees from both the storm and subsequent war fled into India causing a great deal of tension there.

The number of refugees that came into India grew to some 10 million, and when Pakistani war planes attacked India’s Kashmir region, the Hindu nation fought back invading both East and West Pakistan. After India occupied East Pakistan, a new nation was born as it then declared independence, and renamed itself Bangladesh. A cease fire was later declared several weeks later as what had been West Pakistan came away the loser of the war in so many ways. In addition to the formation of Bangladesh, the new nation of Pakistan emerged with the father of the recently assassinated Benazir Bhutto emerging as the new leader. How does this relate to the situation that currently exists in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma?

Well, if you read the latest article on the internet courtesy of Time Magazine, there are a number of options on the table for how to deal with this current crisis in the wake of Cyclone Nagris, which struck just six days ago across the Irawaddy Delta with its Category Four strength winds of nearly 150 mph according to reports. The storm carved a path of destruction over a 30,000 square mile area that included the city of Rangoon. Moderate to severe flooding was reported throughout the delta region as the storm has left a toll of over 23,000 people according to state media in Burma. However, a leading U.S. official in the isolated country stated late in the week that as many as 100,000 people could have been killed by the cyclone.

Yet, despite the pleas from international organizations, offers of assistance from neighboring countries such as Thailand and Qatar, and urging by both President Bush and the First Lady, Laura Bush to let aid and accompanying aid workers come in to help, the military junta, in the throes of major paranoia and xenophobia, has refused to let others in. Moreover, they have put pictures of leaders of the military regime on the boxes of aid seized from the international organizations as if to make those in the country believe that the government itself was behind the aid being delivered. Then, to top that off, the junta has decided to continue going forward with an election as if nothing happened.

The Time article questions whether an invasion of Myanmar is necessary in order for the aid to get through to those, who desperately needed. It also suggests that China, one of the few countries in the region should apply some pressure to the regime in order for it to relent and let both the aid and relief workers into the country to do the things that they have to do in order for much needed work to begin in earnest. Heads of major relief organizations fear that by the time a decision is made to invade, it may be already to late because such things as famine, starvation, and cholera as well as other waterborne diseases may well have a significant effect by then. The junta is already using the aid as bait to entice survivors to vote “yes” in the referendum that took place on Saturday. In addition, resources needed to handle the ongoing crisis has been diverted to help with the election.

Last fall, there was unrest and uprisings in the Southeast Asian country that were put down forcefully by the dictatorship there, and perhaps the response by the junta in the wake of this devastating storm was its way of getting rid of those, who stand in opposition to its rule so that it could stay in power. You could even say that what has occurred there is genocide, or mass murder. Bottom line though, the sand in the hour glass is running out, and more lives are being lost every day. Somebody has to act, and the time is now.

05.09.08

Myanmar Dictatorship Criticized For Poor Response To Crisis In Wake Of Cyclone

Posted in Indian Ocean at 12:18 pm by gmachos

During the day on Thursday, the United Nations took the opportunity to criticize the military junta in power in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar, or Burma. The dictatorships poor preparation, ignorance, and response to the cyclone before, during, and after it hit the Irrawaddy Delta region of that nation, has been taken to task by the United Nations. The international body called the actions by the Myanmar government, “unprecedented” and now is pulling its aid from the World Food program after members of the military regime in Burma seized supplies. Don’t be surprised if there is major chaos in this country in terms of a revolt or rebellion against the government in light of these recent events.

As stated several times earlier this week, the Myanmar government had to quell uprisings during the fall, and have imprisoned opponents, or placed them under house arrest. The elements are there for something dramatic to happen. More importantly as far as the world as a whole is concerned including the United States is that this disaster couldn’t have happened at a worse time with oil prices reaching $125 per barrel, and food shortages around the world that have contributed to instability in places such as Haiti, South Africa, and places in Asia. Myanmar is a major rice producer, and stores such as Costco or Sams Club have already placed limits on the amount of rice to buy while countries such as Thailand have pushed to create a consortium of rice producing countries similar to that of OPEC for oil in order to control prices on rice.

05.08.08

100,000 Feared Dead From Cyclone In Myanmar Repbulic

Posted in General, GWC News, Indian Ocean at 11:57 am by gmachos

Good morning everyone. I’ve continued to watch the situation over in Southeast Asia in the aftermath of the tropical cyclone that struck the Myanmar Republic on Sunday. Listening to the latest news reports from CNN as well as reading articles from various sources on the internet, I’m finding that the situation is playing out much like I had feared. Yesterday afternoon, there was an article on CNN that quoted the highest ranking official from the United States in the Myanmar Republic that stated an international relief organization estimated that as many as 100,000 people could have died from the storm as well as another 70,000 people missing.

This morning’s news revealed that the military regime in Myanmar has finally begun to let aid airplanes with food, water, and other essential supplies land. However, they have been balking at the idea of letting aid workers come in to assist with the distribution of aid as well as other things. According to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, the leading international correspondent, the problem centers around the issue of visa’s for the foreign aid workers. As a result, there was a two day delay in the process of getting aid to those who desperately need it. Amanpour went on to say that this devastating cyclone is turning into Myanmar’s Katrina. This bureaucratic blunder by the military junta is bringing flashbacks of the poor response by the U.S. government in the wake of Katrina in August and September 2005.

When you couple this with the fact that the Myanmar Republic failed to heed the warning from the Indian Meteorological Service some two days before the storm hit, you are looking at a situation that could end up causing much upheaval in that country, which has had uprisings as recently as last fall. The military has been in power there since 1962, and has put key democratic leaders, and opponents of the government either in jail, or under house arrest. This situation is becoming more and more like the aftermath of the Bangladesh cyclone in 1971.

05.07.08

Myanmar Cyclone Becoming A Major Disaster According To The U.N.

Posted in General, GWC News, Indian Ocean at 12:20 pm by gmachos

Good morning everyone. Hurricaneville continues to follow the developing situation in Southeast Asia in the aftermath of a powerful cyclone that ripped through the extreme southern portion of the Myanmar Republic. As of right now, the death toll still stands at an estimated 22,000 people with another 41,000 still missing. Reports of bodies floating in the flood waters, and others being dumped into the water for mass burial have dominated the latest news from that region of the world.

Now, the latest news reports are stating that the Indian Meteorological Service had warned the military dictatorship in the Myanmar Republic, which is also known as Burma of the impending storm some two days in advance. Furthermore, the government is being criticized for not adequately warning or preparing those in harm’s way. The only warnings that were given were those on television, which is not seen by all in the country, where electricity and the usual comforts enjoyed here in the United States are few and hard to come by.

Yesterday, aid was finally starting to trickle into the country as the military government, which has been in power since 1962, and had recently cracked down on protests and uprisings as recently as this past fall, finally relented and allowed a U.N. plane to deliver essential supplies to the stricken country. However, the junta balked at the idea of having U.N. personnel as well as those from international disaster relief organizations to accompany the supplies. President Bush spoke out on the issue earlier this week, and urged the Myanmar government to let the United States help. Bush’s wife, and First Lady, Laura Bush also spoke out in criticism of the junta’s handling of the situation.

The U.N. has given an early assessment of the situation, and indicates that this is already a major disaster with all the people that are already dead and missing, the widespread damage from this Category Four Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, and the military dictatorships, poor response and handling of the situation from the outset all the way until now well into the aftermath. This situation is becoming more and more similar to that which occurred in what is now Bangladesh in November, 1971.

05.06.08

Burma Cyclone Death Toll Rises To 22,000

Posted in General, GWC News, Indian Ocean at 12:13 pm by gmachos

Good morning. I’ve read the article on the devastating cyclone in the Myanmar Republic, which is also known as Burma, and just heard the latest news courtesy of CNN. As of 7:47 AM EDT on Tuesday morning, state radio out of the Myanmar Republic is reporting that the death toll from the devastating storm has risen to 22,000 people. This story is still developing, and I will not be surprised if the death toll gets even higher. Remember, this is not only a third world country, but it is also one that is very isolated with respect to the international community including its surrounding neighbors, and the country is ruled by a fierce military dictatorship that has been in power for 46 years.

This is gradually becoming a major humanitarian crisis that parallels that of the deadly Tsunami that struck Southeast Asia back on the day after Christmas in 2004. First Lady Laura Bush has already taken the military junta in Burma to task. Mrs. Bush, who has enjoyed a tremendous amount of popularity despite the problems of her husband, has appealed to the Myanmar government to allow international aid to come in. If you recall, last year, the Myanmar Republic made the news when the government had a crack down on protests that were occurring in the capital city of Yangon (Rangoon) as well as other areas in the country. It will be very interesting what the next few days, weeks, and months will reveal in Myanmar in the wake of this disaster. Could there be a huge positive in the sense of democratic reform in this totalitarian republic. We’ll have to see. However, it should be important to note that past devastating storms such as the deadly cyclone in East Pakistan back in 1971 brought about an upheaval that resulted in the birth of the country of Bangladesh. I plan to have more details on this aspect in a commentary later.

05.04.08

Tropical Cyclone Strikes Myanmar Republic

Posted in General, GWC News, Indian Ocean at 11:24 pm by gmachos

Storm With Category Three Hurricane Intensity Leaves 351 Dead

On Sunday, the Associated Press reported in the afternoon, that a Tropical Cyclone that was equal in intensity to what would amount to a Category Three Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with 120 mile per hour winds, crashed into the military ruled republic of Myanmar (also known as Burma) in Southeast Asia. According to initial reports, the storm left 351 dead including some 162 on a barrier island off the coast of the isolated country that has been ruled by a military junta since 1962. The deaths on the island were likely a result of tremendous surge that swept in along with the storm.

06.06.07

Rare Tropical Cyclone Headed Towards Persian Gulf

Posted in General, Storm Preparation, Indian Ocean, Hurricane Anomalies at 12:18 am by gmachos

Good evening everybody. Well, Barry’s remnants have left the scene, and much to the relief of everyone here in the Garden State, some severe weather that was forecasted for Tuesday afternoon and evening didn’t pan out. However, there are some other tropical features that will be worth watching as the week progresses, particularly in the Central Atlantic. Anyway, while nothing is currently going on in terms of tropical activity in the Atlantic, there is a rare tropical system moving into the Persian Gulf.

This storm, which originated in the Indian Ocean, was as strong as a Category Five Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with winds of 160 mph. Although it weakened to a moderate Category Three Hurricane with 120 mph winds early Tuesday, Tropical Cyclone Gonu was still a formidable storm as it closed in on the country of Oman on the Arabian Peninsula. As of Tuesday morning, the intense storm was located approximately 265 miles to the Southeast of Muscat, the capital of Oman according to CNN. The reason why this storm is so rare is that tropical cyclones are not known for impacting the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf. These areas aren’t impacted usually because they are made up of deserts with very hot temperatures, low humidity, and sinking air, that inhibits tropical activity.

As a matter of fact, Cyclone Gonu is the strongest such storm to threaten the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, and the rest of the Persian Gulf in some 60 years. Despite the fact that this storm has weakened even further to below major or intense hurricane intensity with 90 knot, or 105 mph winds according to the latest advisory out of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, it still will at least provide a lot of rainfall to the region especially Southeastern Iran, which is the ultimate destination for this system. Looking at the latest satellite imagery, Gonu still has good outflow to it, and its core of thunderstorms is still intact. One big concern about this storm is the potential for heavy rains as it moves inland over Iran, which has rugged and mountainous terrain. Obviously, there are concerns for the precious oil industry across the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, and Iraq. In addition, there is the presence of American soldiers in the region as well as other U.S. military interests. However, there is the possiblity that we could see tremendous flooding and mudslides, which could create a disaster in Iran.

Presently, the storm is creating havoc on the world’s oil markets since it represents a huge obstacle for ships trying to leave the Persian Gulf region, where there are many oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates. If ships are caught up in this storm and damaged, or have to take a longer route to get their petroleum cargo to customers in places such as China, Europe, and the United States, that could spell trouble for the price of a barrel of oil, which will also filter down to the price at the gas pumps here in the U.S. Knowing how gas prices have skyrocketed this spring, it wouldn’t be very helpful if a significant storm disrupted production in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the United States military is also taking precautions tp protect its interests including troops in the Iraq War theatre, and in other parts of the region including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar as well as naval ships in the area.

Now over the past dozen or so years that I’ve been running web sites on weather and hurricanes, I’ve seen a couple other rare storms like this. The most recent one was back in March of 2004 when a rare tropical cyclone struck Brazil. This storm was such a rare event for the South Atlantic that there was actually considerable debate on whether this was actually a tropical system. Tropical activity in the South Atlantic is normally non-existent due to the fact that the sea surface temperatures are much colder than in the North Atlantic, Eastern North Pacific, and Western North Pacific. In addition, because there isn’t much land area in the Southern Hemisphere, winds are usually stronger. The combination of cooler ocean temperatures and stronger upper level winds creates a very hostile environment toward tropical development. Prior to that, there was also a rare tropical storm in the Mediterranean many years ago.