The Annual 12-Month Hazards Season

We’re well into what’s being projected as an active hurricane season for 2010. We’ve already had Agatha on the Eastern Pacific, killing over 170 people in Central America (and opening a spectacular 100-ft deep sinkhole that swallowed a 3-storey house but miraculously killing no one in that instance), and there are already a few tropical waves out there.

But let’s keep our eye on the big picture: earlier this year, people were concerned about a worldwide “earthquake epidemic”, with seemingly “big ones” popping up all over the place, when, in fact, the only real anomaly was the January 2010 event that shook Haiti. That wasn’t even the monster of the group; that one was the February event in Chile, which was along the Pacific Ring of Fire anyway, so no surprises (and relatively few casualties compared to Haiti).

But let’s look at 2010 from the point of view of floods and mudslides, which, like earthquakes, have no season, and all threatening Jamaica at any time. Right now we’re seeing catastrophic flash flooding in Arkansas and Oklahoma City in the USA, as well as events in Rio de Janeiro, Madeira, Myanmar, the south of France, Singapore, Bangladesh and Vancouver. Some numbers:

Rio de Janeiro, April 2010: 212 dead; 15,000 homeless; US$13B damage

Madeira, February 2010: 42 dead; Euro1.4B damage

Bangladesh, June 2010: 53 dead; damage estimate still not known

South of France, June 2010: 25 dead; worst rains in over 2 centuries

Arkansas, USA, June 2010: 20 dead

Note how many of these happened this month alone. While none of these reached the massive casualties experienced in Haiti, nevertheless, these were catastrophic to cities, infrastructure, economies and families. And none of these were associated with a hurricane or earthquake, the two hazards we seem to concern ourselves with in Jamaica; we have earthquake awareness week in January, and natural hazards month at the start of hurricane season…

Let’s just realize that hazards exist year-round, and that, while hurricanes may have seasons, you don’t need a hurricane to have floods or landslides. So preparedness is year-round.

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3 Responses to “The Annual 12-Month Hazards Season”

  1. gas gas mall says:

    Aw, this was a really quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.

  2. Could not be written any better. Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

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3 comments so far
parris Posted by: parris June 18, 2010 at 8:51 pm