This blog provides commentary on interesting geological events occurring around the world in the context of my own work. This work is, broadly, geological fluid dynamics. The events that I highlight here are those that resonate with my professional life and ideas, and my goal is to interpret them in the context of ideas I've developed in my research. The blog does not represent any particular research agenda. It is written on a personal basis and does not seek to represent the University of Illinois, where I am a professor of geology and physics. Enjoy Geology in Motion! I would be glad to be alerted to geologic events of interest to post here! I hope that this blog can provide current event materials that will make geology come alive.

Banner image is by Ludie Cochrane..

Susan Kieffer can be contacted at s1kieffer at gmail.com

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Tropical Storm Phailin (Phailin means sapphire in Thai)

Projected route for Phalin from Accuweather.com
at this link
Today another superstorm has attacked India from the Bay of Bengal: Tropic Cyclone Phailin has hit northeastern India. Hundreds of thousands are either fleeing or being forcefully evacuated. Winds over 100 mph, and flooding in excess of 8" are expected, along with storm surges of up to 20 feet near the shore where landfall occurred.   Winds were in excess of 125 mph at the point of landfall at Golpalpur. The US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre predicted that Phallin could produce gusts up to 184 miles per hour.

Phailin and related geography
From The Weather Channe
In 1999, Cyclone Odisha struck and estimates are that up to 15,000 were killed. Up to this date, Odisha was the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Indian Ocean, and was the deadliest since a cyclone hit Bangladesh in 1991. It was a category 5 storm and followed a category 4 storm in the same general area by only a few weeks. Tens of thousands fled. The storm surge was 26 feet and it traveled up to 20 km inland.Nearly 7,000 square miles of crops and 90 million trees were destroyed. Nearly 1.7 million people were left homeless. Estimates are that up to 45,000 people died, but the official count stood around 10,000. Many people died of starvation and disease after the storm.

Since Odisha, authorities have vowed to reduce deaths and enforce mandatory evacuations. The area encompassed by the cyclone is home to millions of people. Most live in mud and thatch houses. The army is on standby and helicopters and food packages are being prepared for relief operations.

I have discussed hurricanes and cyclones in a number of other posts (see, for example, here; you can search the blog for others), so here are a few new facts (from the Hindustan Times reference given below).

In contrast to naming of hurricanes in the Atlantic, starting in 1979 cyclones in the Northwest Pacific are named in very different ways. By and large, personal names are not used. The majority of names refer to flowers, animals, birds, trees, or even foods, and some are descriptive adjectives. The names are selected by contributing nation, with the selection being from a list of the countries in alphabetical order.

I've been asked whether any good ever comes of disasters, and hopefully, the Indian's response to this one will be an example. In 1999, only tens of thousands were evacuated from this same area. This time it is hundreds of thousands. Let thoughts and prayers for success in their efforts fly across the ocean to those in the path of Phailin.

Here are more links:
Hindustan Times

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