Tropical Storms

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Tropical Storms

  • Intense low pressure weather conditions e.g hurricane, typhoon, tropical cyclone
  • Huge storms with strong winds and torrential rain
  • Develop above sea water that's 27degrees or higher
  • Warm, moist air rises and condensation occurs - releases energy making storm really powerful
  • Tropical storms move west because of the easterly winds near the equator
  • Lose strength on land because warm water supply is cut off
  • Most tropical storms occur between 5degrees and 30degrees north and south of the equator e.g Atlantic and Indian Ocean
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Characteristics of Tropical Storms

  • They spin ANTICLOCKWISE and move NORTH WEST
  • They can be hundreds of kilometres wide
  • Usually last between 7 and 14 days
  • Centre of the storm is called the 'EYE' and is up to 50 km across and is caused by descending air - it has very low pressure, light winds, no clouds and no rain
  • The eye is surrounded by the eyewall where there's spiralling rising air, very strong winds, storm clouds and torrential rain
  • Towards the edges of the storm, wind speed falls, clouds become smaller and scattered and the rain becomes less intense
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Primary Impacts of Tropical Storms

  • Buildings and bridges are destryoed
  • Rivers and coastal areas flood
  • People drown and are injured and killed by debris blown around
  • Roads, railways, ports and airports are damaged
  • Electricity cables are damaged - cutting off supplies
  • Telephone poles and cables are destroyed
  • Sewage overflows due to flooding - sewage contaminates water supplies
  • Crops are destroyed and livestock is killed
  • Heavy rain makes hills unstable causing landslides
  • Beaches are eroded and coastal habitats are damaged e.g coral reefs
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Secondary Impacts of Tropical Storms

  • People are left homeless
  • Shortage of clean water and lack of proper sanitation - makes it easier for diseases to spread
  • Roads blocked and destroyed - emergency vehicles and aid can't get through
  • Businesses damaged and destroyed causing unemployment
  • Shortage of food because crops are damaged and livestock has died
  • People may suffer psychological problems if freinds or family die
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Impacts of Tropical Storms are more severe in LEDC

  • More poor quality housing - destroyed easily by strong winds and flooding
  • Infrastructure is often poorer in LEDCs - poor quality roads make it harder for emergency services to rescue people -> leads to more deaths
  • More people depend on farming - if crops and livestock are destroyed farmers lose their livelihood -> causing people to starve
  • Not much money to protect against tropical storms e.g building flood defences
  • Not enough resources to react straight away so more people will be affected by secondary impacts
  • Healthcare is often worse - hospitals don't have enough supplies to deal with large numbers of casualties after a tropical storm -> more people die from treatable injuries
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Why don't they move away from areas prone to tropi

  • They don't want to leave friends and family behind
  • They've got a job in the area
  • They don't think that tropical storms will happen again so it's safe to carry on living there
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Reducing the impacts of tropical storms - 1


  • Scientists calculate the path of the tropical storm using radars, satellites and aircrafts
  • Predicting when and where a tropical storm is going to happen gives people time to evacuate - reducing the amount of injuries and deaths. They can also protect their homes/businesses by boarding up windows


  • Future developments e.g new houses for those at risk - coastal houses -> reduces number of buildings destroyed by winds or flooding
  • Emergency services can train and prepare for disasters e.g practising rescuing people from flood areas with helicopters -> reduces the number of people killed
  • Governments can plan evacuation routes -> reduces number of injuries and deaths by floodwater and flying debris

Building techniques

  • Buildings designed to withstand tropical storms e.g using reinforced concrete, fixing roofs securely - can also be put on stilts so they're safe from floodwater
  • Flood defences built along rivers e.g levees, and coasts e.g sea walls -> they all reduce the number of buildings destroyed so fewer people are injured, killed, made homeless and made unemployed
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Reducing the impacts of tropical storms - 2


  • Governments and other organisation can educate people on how to prepare for a tropical storm e.g stockpiling water and food, evacuation routes -> reduces deaths
  • People can be taught how to make a survival kit containing food, water and medicine -> kits reduce the chance of people dying if they're stuck in the area


  • Governments and/or organisations send aid to other countries hit by tropical storms e.g food, bottled water, tents -> helps to reduce the impacts e.g food aid stops people getting hungry

Sustainable strategies

  • All strategies are sustainable because they're all effective and environmentally friendly
  • Some are more cost effective than others, so they're more sustainable
  • Predicting tropical storms needs special equipment e.g radars, and trained scientists which makes it expensive -> but if it's accurate it saves a lot of lives
  • Building techniques can be very expensive, but can save a lot of money if they stop the destruction of other buildings
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Case Study in MEDC

Name: Hurricane Katrina

Place: South East USA

Date: 29 August 2005

Cost of damage: Around $300 billion

Primary Impacts: 1800+ people killed; 300 000 houses destoyed; 3 million people left without electricity; coastal habitats such as sea turtle breeding beaches were damaged; one of the main routes out of New Orleans was closed becasue parts of the I-10 bridge collapsed

Secondary Impacts: Tens of thousands of people made homeless; 230 000 jobs were lost because businesses were damaged/destroyed; water supplies were polluted with sewage, chemicals and dead bodies

Reasons for severity of impacts: USA has a sophisticated monitoring system for prediction e.g using satellite images of the Atlantic, so people were warned; 70-80% New Orleans residants evacuated before the hurricane reached land -> reduced number of people killed; Mississippi and Louisiana set up control centres and stockpiled supplies -> reduced the impacts; emergency services rescued 50 000+ people -> reduced number of people killed; flood defences failed -> increased the number of people killed and the cost of the damage because flooding in the area was worse than it should have been.

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Case Study in LEDC

Name: Cyclone Nargis

Place: Irrawaddy Delta, Burma

Date: 2 May 2008

Cost of damage: Around $4 billion

Primary Impacts: 140 000+ people killed; 450 000 houses destroyed; 1700 schools destroyed; 200 000 farm animals killed; crops were lost; over 40% of food stores were destroyed

Secondary Impacts: 2-3 million people made homeless; millions of people lost their livelihoods; over 70% of households didn't have access to clean water

Reasons for severity of impacts: Water agencies warned Burmese governments - Burmese forecasters reported that there was little or no risk -> increased number of deaths because people weren't evacuated in time despite warnings; no emergency or evacuation plans; Burma's government initially refused to accept any foreign aid; aid workers were allowed in 3 weeks after the disaster occured -> increased number of deaths because help for some injured people came too late; aid from many countries was eventually accepted e.g 32 tonnes of aid from India including tents, blankets and medicine -> reduced number of people that died from things like starvation

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