A child (C) wades through a flooded road following the passage of Typhoon Kammuri in Legaspi City, Albay province, south of Manila on December 3, 2019. – Typhoon Kammuri lashed the Philippines with fierce winds and heavy rain, as hundreds of thousands took refuge in shelters and the capital Manila prepared to shut down its international airport over safety concerns. (Photo by RAZVALE SAYAT / AFP) (Photo by RAZVALE SAYAT/AFP via Getty Images)MANILA, Dec 3 (Reuters) – A typhoon struck the Philippines on Tuesday bringing heavy rains and prompting preemptive halts in air travel, schools and government offices, with some 200,000 people evacuated after warnings of floods and landslides.Typhoon Kammuri, the 20th typhoon to hit the country this year, weakened slightly and moved slowly across central parts of the archipelago during the night, with damage minor reported in some areas.The storm was packing 155 kph (96 mph) wind speeds and gusts of up to 235 kph (146 mph), the weather bureau said. Authorities warned of landslides, storm surges and floods triggered by heavy winds and rain, preemptively moving 200,000 people to safe places in several dozen provinces.There were no immediate reports of casualties or significant damage.The main airport in Manila would be closed for 12 hours from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (0300 GMT to 1500 GMT) as a precaution, although air travel continued in unaffected areas of the country.Government offices and schools were closed in affected areas and utilities firms appealed for patience ahead of anticipated power outages. The coastguard halted commercial sea travel in affected areas.Local television showed footage of the main airport in Legazpi province with cables, lighting and panels hanging from the ceiling. Pictures posted by social media users showed waves crashing against bulwarks, felled trees and signage, and some minor damage to electricity poles.The Philippines is hosting the Southeast Asian Games and organisers postponed several events, including the surfing, kayak, windsurfing, sailing and canoe contests.(Reporting by Martin Petty. Editing by Lincoln Feast.)
“A wake-up call was necessary,” Macron insisted after much criticism of his language. “I’m glad it was delivered, and I’m glad everyone now thinks we should rather think about our strategic goals.”
Too much emphasis was put on military spending, Macron added, and not enough on strategy. France, a nuclear power, is among the NATO members not meeting the alliance’s target for military spending.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
© 2019 The New York Times Company
Typhoons, Cyclones, and Hurricanes: Naming the World’s Most Powerful Storms
Cyclones, Hurricanes, and Typhoons wreak havoc on coastal communities around the world, bringing severe winds, torrential rains and perilous storm surges.
These destructive storms are the most powerful weather events on Earth. They form along the equator over regions of warm seawater. As that warm, moist air rises, cold air rushes in along the surface of the ocean. This cycle repeats as more cool air is pulled in, warmed, and then rises up in a circular motion. Storms that form north of the Equator spin counterclockwise, while those that form south of the Equator spin clockwise, according to NASA.
Most scientists use the term tropical cyclone to describe a swirling, organized system of thunderstorms that has originated in tropical or subtropical waters and has closed, low-level circulation, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
So, why do these storms have different names?
Location! Location! Location!
In the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast and central North Pacific Ocean, they’re hurricanes. Hurricane season stretches from June 1 to November 30. According to NOAA, 97 percent of all tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic occurs during this period.
In the Northwest Pacific Ocean, near Japan and the Korean peninsula, they’re known as typhoons. These storms can form throughout the year, but most develop between May and October.
In the South Pacific and Indian Ocean, a tropical cyclone is often just referred to as a cyclone. Like elsewhere in the world, these storms have mostly no official season, but peak between May and November.
How Does a Cyclone Become a Hurricane?
The short answer? Wind.
Tropical cyclones with sustained winds of less than 39 mph are called tropical depressions. Tropical storms have sustained winds between 39 mph and 74 mph. Once a tropical storm reaches sustained winds of more than 74 mph, it will be reclassified, depending on where it originates, as a hurricane, typhoon, or cyclone.
What about super-typhoons like Haiyan, which struck the Philippines in 2013? These storms can reach sustained wind speeds of more than 150 mph. Haiyan, which was one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, reached 195 mph. Hurricane Patricia, which spun along the west coast of Mexico in 2015 holds the record for highest wind speeds with sustained gusts of more than 200 mph.
Another barometer of a storm’s intensity is its atmospheric pressure. Measured in millibars, atmospheric pressure readings track changes in air pressure where masses of cold and warm air meet. In 1979, Typhoon Tip’s minimum central atmospheric pressure dipped to 870 millibars, the lowest reading ever recorded by these standards.
A Growing Problem
Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are graded differently. The intensity of hurricanes is measured using the Saffir-Simpson scale, which is based on wind speed and ranks hurricanes on a 1-5 scale. The wind speeds of typhoons, on the other hand, are monitored and measured using the designations, “typhoon,” “very strong typhoon,” and “violent typhoon.” Cyclones are classified in two ways—Australia uses a 1-5 ranking similar to the Saffir-Simpson and India uses monikers like “very intense tropical cyclone” and “super cyclonic storm,” according to the The New York Times.
Experts have said that climate change will impact different parts of the ocean in different ways but agree that, for the most part, the warming temperatures make these storms more severe and, in some cases, more frequent.
The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes the world saw between the 1970s and early 2000s nearly doubled, according to National Geographic. Storms are not only getting stronger, but they’re lasting longer, shedding more rain and moving more slowly. Wind speeds have picked up, too, by half in the last 50 years.
Vietnamese women are hit harder by climate change—but they’re starting to fight back
Tran Thi Phuong Tien remembers when the floods came. Sitting at her cafe in Hue city, where she roasts her own coffee beans and serves sizzling beef that draws customers from the other side of the Perfume River, she recalls how Tropical Storm Eve hit the coast in October of 1999, pounding the region with more than its monthly average of rain in just a few days. The massive rainfall, which landed mostly upstream, conspired with the tide to cause the largest natural disaster for the area in the 20th century. The sea spilled aggressively through the narrow, unprepared streets of the communes and the single-storey homes of Hue. The unfeeling water rose shockingly fast.
The flooding continued for four days. Tran and her family fled to her mother’s house. At one point her husband took a boat back to their house, diving under the water to get inside and surviving on a stash of energy drinks left over from Tran’s old job for the few days he spent there. Government staff were tossing balls of cooked rice through the windows of homes across the river, but on her side the flooding was too extreme for even meagre rescue efforts like that. Most of their furniture was destroyed. After the waters receded, she saw dead bodies everywhere: dogs, cats, buffalo, humans. The mud left on the walls refused to yield to her cleaning efforts. She heard about a family—a grandmother, a grandfather, and their two grandchildren—who knew they would die and tied themselves together so their bodies wouldn’t wash away.
An estimated 600 people died in those few days, and the damage amounted to about $300 million. It left the province of Thua Thien Hue, and others in that region of north-central Vietnam, fearful of the next time the sea would come to claim the land as its own.
Greedy waters have often held the province in their clutches. In November 2017, floods from Typhoon Damrey affected more than 160,000 households in the province, killing nine people, and causing about $36 million in damage. But it’s the 1999 flood that haunts. From beneath her wispy fringe, Tran looks at the dirty pond across the street from her café as if bracing herself for what it might become.
The 1999 disaster is what people in Thua Thien Hue talk about when you ask them about climate change, as reflexively as a hiccup, as if it were a textbook example. The connection isn’t accurate, explains Pham Thi Dieu My, director of the Center for Social Research and Development, a Hue-based nonprofit. The cyclical, if severe, storm had the fiendish luck of bringing together heavy rains, high tide, and a lack of preparation. But for Pham, who has been educating the community about climate change, the memory has been crucial for waking up residents—women in particular—to the realities of their future.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment predicts that, if emissions remain high, the average temperature in Thua Thien Hue will rise by up to 3.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century. Annual rainfall will increase by 2–10%. Sea levels will rise by up to 94cm. Rising sea levels combined with increased rain will flood the low-lying plains in which the province sits. At the same time, the water on which some crops depend may become fatally salty when dry season droughts fail to bring enough rain to balance out the salinity of ocean water. The 1999 flood, says Pham, makes it easier to understand what’s coming.
As a strategy it works. The example of the flood, coupled with other recent changes—temperatures so hot that farmers had taken to planting rice at night, and low rainfall that left waters too brackish for rice and many fish to thrive—proved to the people of Thua Thien Hue that climate change wasn’t just coming, it was here.
So when Pham approached the local branches of the Vietnam Women’s Union, with a simple idea to help the land and sea withstand the coming danger, she found willing volunteers. They didn’t need marches or commitments from world superpowers to catalyse them into action. The women of Thua Thien Hue were ready to rescue themselves. And in doing so, they joined a global movement to preserve and restore one of the most crucial and widespread—yet neglected—tools for thwarting climate-driven destruction: mangrove trees.
Le Thi Xuan Lan is laughing at me. I deserve it. We are walking towards her small rectangle of water, a pen bordered by low, sandy dykes walling it off from the Tam Giang lagoon along the central coast of Vietnam. There, she harvests shrimp and crab to supplement the money she earns collecting trash in her commune three times a week. But reaching her pond requires crossing a bridge—if you can call it that. Pipes of grey bamboo bound together and bolstered by narrow, upright planks stretch across an inlet. A single horizontal pole made of bamboo offers a rickety railing that inspires scant confidence. The bridge spans just 30 feet or so, but I’m clumsy and fearful of dropping my notebook and recorder, so I clutch the railing with two hands and take the bridge sideways. Behind me, Le, who is 61, howls with laughter and jumps on the bridge without holding on. Behind both of us, the South China Sea lies flat and calm, as if it plans to stay that way.
Earlier that day, our feet sank into the hot, black, squishy shore by a 16-month-old patch of mangrove trees that she had helped plant. The young trees looked like boy soldiers, thin and lanky, their heads of green, leathery leaves hovering just a foot or so above the water. Le, clad in a pink hoodie and black pants—covered head to toe despite the boiling air, as is the way in South-east Asia—bent down to clear seaweed from the still-tender roots. She tossed away a rock that had come to rest nearby, like a mother wiping food from a toddler’s face. Keeping the small trees free of anything that could stifle their growth is vital to their success. And their success, she knows, is vital to her survival. In a few years, the mangroves will be there to keep floodwaters from swallowing her village whole. Or so she hopes.
Mangroves are a testament to the miracle of trees. Of the 60,000 or so species of trees on Earth, only mangroves tolerate saltwater. They thrive where freshwater mingles with the ocean, just beyond the shores of more than 90 countries in South-east Asia, South America, North America, Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. Their thick tangles of ropey roots capture river sediment, thereby reducing beach erosion and preventing pollutants from flowing into the ocean. A 100-meter-wide swath of mangroves can reduce the height of a wave by as much as two-thirds. They sequester carbon three to five times more powerfully than upland tropical forest.
Mangroves are often referred to as “the nurseries of the sea”—clusters of them make breeding grounds for fish and crustaceans. Although exact estimates are hard to come by, it’s likely that hundreds to thousands of fish species spend their lifecycle around mangroves. Researchers estimate that 80% of the global fish population is dependent on healthy mangrove ecosystems, and in turn 120 million people worldwide depend on them for income. Migratory birds also make seasonal homes in mangroves.