Saturday, June 09, 2007

More on Gonu

The remnants of Cyclone / Hurricane Gonu have caused severe flooding in southern Iran. The overall death toll on Oman and Iran has passed 70, including 12 killed in Iran from flash floods. These are places not accustomed to severe rainfalls. Based on the little decent news coverage (not to defend the source) I was able to find, it appears the Iranian villages were unprepared for a deluge of this size.

This image (scroll down) shows the cyclone tracks in the northwest Indian Ocean since 1985. Notice no storms passed into the Gulf of Oman (upper left). The global image on Wikipedia shows just how rare it is for cyclone to even approach the Arabian peninsula or Iran.

The anamously warm sea surface temperatures off Oman played a role in steering the cyclone on that unusual track. NOAA's Coral Reef Watch has a "bleaching watch" for the coast of Oman. That means sea surface temperatures are nearing a level at which some coral bleaching may occur. Since both can be driven by warm ocean temepratures, the concurrence of intense hurricanes and coral bleaching is not so unusual; the largest coral bleaching event in the Caribbean took place in 2005, also the strongest hurricane season.

Given that this blog is devoted in large part to climate change science and policy, I'm normally wary of writing about a specific storm or weather event as it can give the false impression that one could reasonably argue that that storm or event is a clear result of climate change.

In this case, I'm writing about the storm because it is a rare event, because of the human impact, and because, frankly, the North American news coverage has been just abominable. interrupts its coverage of the human toll to discuss oil prices. This is a direct quote:

At least 35 people were dead, most of them in Oman, and 30 were missing.
The storm spared the region's oil installations, and oil futures fell Friday on a wave of profit-taking that followed a surge in prices a day earlier. News that Cyclone Gonu had spared major oil installations in the Gulf of Oman also alleviated supply concerns. Light, sweet crude for July delivery fell 62 cents to $66.31 U.S. a barrel in morning trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after dropping as low as $65.55 early in the session.
At least 32 Gonu-related deaths were reported in Oman, including members of police rescue squads, and 30 others were reported missing, police said. Rescue teams were searching for victims using helicopters and boats, he said.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Media coverage has been very poor no doubt