A Running List of Record-Breaking Natural Disasters in 2020

Years of Poor Urban Planning Contributed to the Hyderabad Flash Floods
Rescue operations being carried out for locals to move them to safer places following heavy rain, at Al Jubail colony in Hyderabad, Wednesday, October 14, 2020. Photo: PTI. Full story: https://thewire.in/environment/hyderabad-floods-urban-planning-musi-river

A Running List of Record-Breaking Natural Disasters in 2020

So far 2020 has been a standout year for all the wrong reasons, including its devastating natural disasters. Wildfires have ravaged the western U.S., and tropical cyclones have popped up left and right, with several causing significant damage to coastal areas. The latest storm, Hurricane Delta, is headed for the Gulf Coast.

Though they are called natural disasters, the toll they take comes in part from human actions. The buildup of communities in vulnerable areas, such as along the coasts and fire-prone areas of the West, means more people are in harm’s way. Climate change, fueled by greenhouse gas emissions from energy use and industrial processes, has also upped the ante. Hotter weather dries out the grasses and forest debris that can ignite, fueling bigger and longer-lasting wildfires. And rising seas and heavier downpours mean higher flood risks during storms…

Stalling hurricanes like Sally may be linked to climate change

Sally, a tropical storm at the time, was cruising through the Gulf of Mexico at about 12 miles per hour on Sunday, Sept 13., expected to make landfall in Louisiana around 8 p.m. Monday.

Instead, she stalled in the Gulf like an old fishing boat after that Sunday forecast, slowing to just 2 mph by Tuesday morning and slammed into coastal Alabama as a category 2 hurricane early Wednesday morning.

That slowdown gave Sally an extra day or so to intensify over the warm Gulf waters and shifted the storm’s track east by about 120 miles. When slow-moving Sally finally came ashore near Gulf Shores, she dumped buckets of rain on the Alabama and Florida coast for hours on end…

Preparation and recovery – What is the trauma of living through a natural disaster?

In June 2020, the city of Mumbai was plagued with uncertainty and anxiety as Cyclone Nisarga was reported to be nearing. Days after Cyclone Amphan ravaged the east coast, Mumbaikers recognised the need for being on guard and ready for the worst to come.

The pandemic had already paralysed the city. Movement had been restricted, Section 144 had been imposed and news outlets were providing minute by minute updates. Although Mumbai was not significantly affected by Nisarga, feelings of anxiety and dread were reported to be on the rise.

The anxiety about loss of life, loss of agriculture, financial loss and vulnerability to homelessness were few of the many factors that the city felt immense dread about. According to the disaster profile for India conducted by this study, India is one of the most disaster prone areas in the world due to its location and geo-climatic conditions.

About 58.7 % of the total land mass is prone to earthquakes of moderate to very high intensity,  12% of Indian land, is prone to floods, and 68 % of the land is vulnerable to drought. India’s hilly terrain is vulnerable to landslides and 8% of Indian land is vulnerable to cyclones…

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