Climate Change Claims More Victims in Fiji with Severe Cyclone
Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, the Category 5 storm that slammed into Fiji on February 20, was the strongest storm ever to make landfall in the Southern Hemisphere and the second strongest ever in the world, with wind speeds approaching 300 kilometres an hour. At least 44 people were killed, and thousands left homeless, deprived of livelihood and at risk of water- and mosquito-borne diseases.
Climate change brought on by carbon emissions has meant that extreme storms are occurring with increasing frequency. Six of the 12 strongest storms on record have occurred in the past 10 years. The only storm in history to hit land with higher wind-speeds, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), devastated the Filipino islands of Samar and Leyte just two years and three months ago, in November 2013.
Meteorologists Bob Henson and Jeff Masters wrote in a February 22 blog post on Weather Underground: “Tropical cyclones are heat engines at heart: they transfer energy from low-latitude oceans to the higher-latitude atmosphere."