Tropical storms can be devastating. However, the severity of their impact can be managed through effective monitoring, prediction and strategic planning.
The success of these efforts often depends on understanding the vulnerabilities of the area, which can be influenced by a combination of physical, economic and social factors.
Mountainous areas with steep slopes and low-lying coastlines present unique physical vulnerabilities.
The steep slopes increase the risk of landslides, especially during a tropical storm. Similarly, low-lying coastlines are more prone to hazards such as storm surges, flooding and high winds.
The economic impact of tropical storms can be significant. Developing countries often grapple with limited financial resources, making them particularly vulnerable to the costs associated with storm damage repairs and recovery efforts.
In contrast, developed countries, with their complex infrastructure, may face even higher costs due to intense damage.
The quality of infrastructure and availability of post-storm support often highlight a country’s social vulnerability.
In many developing countries, buildings of poorer quality are more likely to sustain damage. These countries may also struggle to provide adequate healthcare and other necessary support in the aftermath of a tropical storm.
Highly industrialised countries (HICs) and less economically developed countries (LEDCs) or newly emerging economies (NEEs) use different methods to monitor and predict tropical storms. This is due to varying resources and capabilities.
In HICs, monitoring is facilitated by advanced tracking tools such as weather charts, computer software, radar and satellites.
Organisations, such as the National Hurricane Center in the USA, monitor all hurricane activity over the eastern Pacific and Atlantic oceans. They provide early warnings, such as hurricane watches, to alert the public and give them enough time to prepare.
Conversely, many LEDCs/NEEs have limited resources to monitor tropical storms effectively. With less access to resources, these countries may struggle with the high cost of equipment and issues related to communication.
However, even with these constraints, tools like the Saffir-Simpson 5-point scale offer a practical way to measure wind speed and gauge the storm’s intensity.
Efforts to plan for tropical storms aim to reduce their impacts and protect vulnerable communities.
Protection measures focus on designing buildings and infrastructure that can withstand the forces of tropical storms.
Implementing these protection measures can be costly. However, they are seen as a long-term investment that can save money in the long run by reducing the need for extensive rebuilding efforts after a tropical storm.