Cyclones, hurricanes, or typhoons are among the most widespread natural hazards on the planet. They can last up to ten days. Cyclones are meteorological phenomenons which corresponds to strong tropical storms with winds up to 380 km/h, heavy rain and intense swells. They form when warm, moist air moves over the ocean.
Cyclones have strong impacts on humans; nearly one million people disappeared in the last 50 years as a direct impact. In addition, they cause material damage, which requires subsequent investment in cities.
But what are the impacts of cyclones on the environment?
- Wind damage
During a cyclone, the heat of the ocean and the evaporation of warm water are transformed into strong winds. This causes great damage such as the uprooting of trees, of crops, the destruction of vegetation, houses, vehicles, bridges, erosion of beaches … They can also transform objects or debris into projectiles which creates a great danger outside the homes. In addition, the destruction of electricity and telephone networks can hamper fast and effective communication with first aid services.
The action of strong winds blowing towards the coast also causes a build-up of water.
- Floods, heavy rainfall (that accelerates erosion)
The rains are the most destructive; they involve many landslides and mudslides, the destruction of dwellings on the banks of rivers, muddy coulees, roads cut off because they have been washed away and are therefore dangerous… Moreover, if the cyclone occurs in a mountainous region, the damage will be much greater. Rainfall can exceed several hundred liters per day. In general, they take place three to five hours before the passage of the cyclone which damages the road network in a consequent way. They also damage agricultural plantations and pollute the water. Then, it becomes unconsumable, with the risk of epidemics.
- Sea level rise
The rising sea level floods everything in its path. It causes massive damage on the coast. This is another one of the most direct impacts of a cyclone. Waves can be up to twenty meters high, so they can submerge ports as well as other coastal infrastructures. It represents also a danger for ships at sea, as it can sweep them avay and run them aground.
Consequent degradation can lead to a high level of pollution. They also represent a notable risk for the population and generate additional costs. Thus, the precautions which should be taken before the arrival of a cyclone are paramount, especially in Mauritius where cyclones are quite frequent.
First of all, it is necessary to move away from the coast when a cyclone’s arrival is imminent. The authorities highly advised to isolate yourself in a safe place, preferably inland. In addition, you can cut down dead trees and branches to reduce the risk of them being uprooted and thrown onto your home. You should also provide food and water, a first aid kit, candles, matches, and a battery-operated radio. It is necessary to consolidate your house at the level of doors and windows with plywood sheets that you will place outside.
Finally, make sure that no objects that could be carried away and damage your home are outside and that your important papers are safe from potential flooding.
During the hurricane, stay away from windows and do not leave your home until the alert is over. This way, you are aware of the actions and precautions to take during a cyclone alert, pay attention to them.