Stormy Weather

Hurricanes, Monsoons, and Tropical Storms

Why have cyclones striking out of the Indian Ocean proven to be so deadly?

Cyclones that have struck India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and other areas in Southeast Asia are no stronger than the powerful hurricanes that have caused so much death and damage in the Gulf Coast. Many more people have died as a result of these cyclones, however, because of high population densities near the coasts and because so many of these people live in poverty and survive in rickety shacks and other substandard shelters. The 2008 cyclone that hit Myanmar was particularly brutal in the area of the Irrawaddy Delta, a low-lying peninsula that had been converted to rice and shrimp farms. These farms replaced mangrove forests that would have served as natural buffers between the land and the oncoming cyclone.


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