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© NOAA/NASA Satellite imagery of Cyclone Mocha on Friday.

Climate Change

Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Mocha Hits Myanmar, Bangladesh

Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Mocha made landfall on 14 May in Myanmar, near the border with Bangladesh, accompanied by sustained winds of 180-190 km/h and violent gusts, torrential rainfall, and flooding. The WMO community provided forecasts and meteorological support to humanitarian agencies to help them mobilize against this dangerous threat for hundreds of thousands of extremely vulnerable people.

Map of the path of cyclone Mocha

Mocha (pronounced Mokha) made landfall about 30 km west-northwest of Sittwe (Myanmar) and 150 km south-southeast of Cox’s Bazar (Bangladesh).

The extreme weather conditions in Rakhine and telecommunications interruptions mean it has not yet been possible to assess the full magnitude of the disaster, but early reports suggest the damage is extensive and needs among already vulnerable communities, particularly displaced people, will be high, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The state of Rakhine in Myanmar has about six million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

Cox’s Bazaar, home to nearly one million Rohingya, escaped the worst of the force of Mocha, but still suffered impacts.

According to initial reports, the number of casualties was limited by accurate forecasts and advance action. It highlighted once again the importance of the UN Early Warnings for All initiative.

Both Bangladesh and Myanmar used to suffer horrific death tolls from tropical cyclones. This has been dramatically reduced by early warnings, disaster management and community mobilization.

Mocha weakened rapidly after landfall,according to WMO’s regional specialized meteorological center (RSMC) New Delhi.

RSMC New Delhi had forecast a storm surge of about 2.0-2.5 m above the astronomical tides was likely to inundate low lying areas of north Myanmar and the adjoining Southeast Bangladesh coasts. It warned of very strong winds, heavy rainfall, with the risk of floods, flash floods and landslides.

The area is low-lying and highly prone to flooding.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, International Organization for Migration, World Health Organization and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies made contingency plans and mobilizing community preparedness, based on the forecasts.

This includes pre-positioning medical supplies, food, and emergency shelter.

OCHA said an urgent injection of funds is needed to facilitate a full-scale response to the cyclone. To date, the US$764 million Humanitarian Response Plan is only 10% funded.

Courtesy of WMO, World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

 Climate change has been linked to both the occurrence and frequency of rapidly intensifying storms in ocean basins, which may be due to warming ocean and air temperatures. Nexus Media. Image courtesy of NOAA

More from Nexus Media

At least 3 (5, as updated by NPR) people are dead and thousands more have been forced to seek shelter as Category 5 Cyclone Mocha made landfall Sunday afternoon, bringing sustained winds of 175 miles per hour and gusts as high as 200 mph. The UN has expressed concern for the already vulnerable refugee populations living in the low-lying areas in the storm’s path, as tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees are being kept behind barbed wire fences and security checkpoints, in camps 2 meters below sea level, near Sittwe, which was directly hit by the storm.

The severity of the storm matches 2019’s Cyclone Fani as the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the North Indian Ocean. Climate change has been linked to both the occurrence and frequency of rapidly intensifying storms in ocean basins, which may be due to warming ocean and air temperatures.

Sources: AP, NBC News, BBC, Reuters, CNN, Yale Climate Connections, Axios, Washington Post $; Climate Signals; CyclonesBBC

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