Disasters, 2013

Disasters, 2013

By Nicole Halseth, News Editor

2013 is officially over. Now, while the apocalypse did not happen, 2013 was nonetheless very active in terms of natural disasters. Though this is by no means an exhaustive list, some of the most significant natural disasters of 2013 included:

Typhoon Haiyan – Philippines

Typhoon Haiyan, considered to be one of the most powerful tropical storms to make landfall, hit the central area of the Philippines on 8 November 2013. With a storm surge of 13-feet and winds up to 235 mph, Haiyan caused widespread destruction and wiped out much of the infrastructure in the area. Almost 6,000 people were killed, and up to 3.6 million have been displaced. Disaster response, slow to reach the affected areas, is still ongoing.

Typhoon (Cyclone) Phailin – India

Phailin was the strongest cyclone to have hit India in over 14 years, affecting nearly 13 million people in the northeast part of the country in October 2013. The storm caused widespread destruction, with heavy rains and winds up to 150 mph, and around 50 people were killed. Almost one million vulnerable populations from coastal areas were evacuated prior to the storm by the government and aid agencies.

Hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid- Mexico

Two tropical storms hit western Mexico in September of 2013, causing mass flooding and landslides. 200, 000 people were affected in Guerrero state, and Acapulco was hit by mudslides of up to five feet. Disaster relief is ongoing.

Earthquake – Central Visayas, Philippines

Just three weeks before Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, they were subjected to a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in the same area. It killed 222 people and displaced 350, 000, and destroyed or damaged around 73, 000 buildings.

Tornadoes – United States

With up to 200 mph winds, a large tornado cut a 12-mile path through the area around Oklahoma City on 20 May, 2013. The tornado destroyed and damaged homes, including two elementary schools, and killed 24 people. Only a week prior to this larger tornado, up to 10 smaller tornadoes hit North Texas and killed six people. Long term disaster response and rebuilding is ongoing.

Other large-scale natural disasters of 2013 include: earthquakes and tsunamis (February) in the Solomon Islands; earthquakes (April) in Sichuan, China; drought (May to present) in Southern Africa; floods (June) in Uttarakhand, India; floods (September) in Colorado, US; floods (October) in Southern Asia; drought (ongoing) in West Africa.

While the New Year has begun, it is important to remember the tragedies of the old one. Many people, communities, and countries around the world are still facing the repercussions of these events every day, and will be recovering for some time. Relief efforts continue, in many cases, and you can still become involved. If not, remembering these incidents is a small way you can continue to show them respect.

According to the National Post, Canada can expect some extreme weather of its own early in 2014, in the form of a series of intense temperature shifts from freezing to mild. While not on the level of the disasters mentioned above, this predicted weather is believed to be so severe that Environment Canada is already devising a plan to replace the current system of issuing wind chill warnings with a new system of Extreme Cold Warnings, to compensate for significant drops in temperature that are not accompanied by wind chill. This new program may even be introduced sometime in 2014. Given the severe cold front that has recently hit parts of North America, many of us are (unfortunately) acutely familiar with this subject. So bundle up, keep a keen eye out for the weather warnings, and fight the chill any way you can. Stay warm Canada!