Tropical cyclones are being detected with greater accuracy in recent years, which allows for quicker evacuation and the saving of many lives. With the use of satellites and sophisticated instruments, researchers are able to alert citizens of these storms and plan evacuation routes. Not long ago, people were uniformed about these incoming storms and it resulted in many casualties. The cyclone that hit Bangladesh in 1970, for example, was rated as the single deadliest tropical cyclone in recorded history, with the loss of over 350,000 lives. The wind speed and storm surges were about the same as the cyclone in 1991, but the difference was that there was little warning of it for the local villagers. The lives lost in the 1991 were 138,000 while the 1997 and 1998 cyclones only claimed 127 and 6 deaths respectively. Casualties have decreased over time, while the cost of damages has increased. Various government and meteorological agencies are now in place to warn people of these deadly storms.
Effective warning systems are the key to saving lives in the event of a cyclone. Prior to the 1991 cyclone, there was ample warning that a cyclone might strike, but few people were convinced of the severity of it until they saw the wave advancing. Analysts of the cyclone later found that the warning system in place was only intended for port authorities, and not citizens, as it contained “technical information” only (Climate.org, accessed May 7, 2005). Citizens need to be taught to obey warnings and have trust in them. Many false alarms were issued prior to this event which lowered the citizen’s trust in the warning system. When the cyclone hit, people were unprepared.
Suggestion of Improvements
The present warning cyclone warning system in Bangladesh is now outfitted with sophisticated satellites and radar, but much more needs to be done to prepare for a future event. The warning signs of a cyclone and the possibility and severity of one striking need to be carefully considered. Once informed of this data, officials need to order evacuations. Communication also needs to be improved between officials and citizens. Television and radio stations should be able to broadcast information about the cyclone, and the evacuation route details. Short wave radios might serve as a better warning system in the more rural areas.