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  • Monsoon rains approaching Myanmar

    The weather in the region ravaged by Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar has taken a turn for the better today, after a low pressure system that brought heavy rains and 20-30 mph winds yesterday weakened and moved off to the north. This system appeared to be a threat to develop into a tropical depression yesterday, but interaction with land is hindering its development, and the low is no longer expected to become a tropical depression. You can view the latest satellite images of the low (dubbed 96B) at the Navy/NRL web site.

    The monsoon is coming
    However, the respite from bad weather will be short-lived, as the mighty summer monsoon is almost upon the disaster area. The Southwest Monsoon (called that because the winds typically blow from the southwest) is an annual rainy period lasting from late May to mid-September in the regions surrounding the North Indian Ocean. The monsoon forms in response to the unequal summertime heating of the air over the land and oceans. The land heats up quicker than the oceans, creating low pressure and rising air over the Indian subcontinent. Moist air from the oceans is drawn in over the land areas to replace this hot, rising air, and the moist oceanic air brings heavy rains to the region. Truly prodigious rains accompany the arrival of the monsoon. The capital of Yangon averages about one inch of rain per month in the period just before the monsoon starts, and twenty inches per month thereafter.

    Figure 1. Current position of the Southwest Monsoon, (northernmost green line), compared to average. The northern edge of the monsoon is almost upon the region hit by Cyclone Nargis. Image credit: India Meteorological Department.

    As of today, the edge of the monsoon was just 100 miles south of Yangon and the Irrawaddy delta region (Figure 1). The monsoon is expected to push northwards into the region by Saturday--about one week earlier than average. The monsoon will greatly complicate relief efforts in Myanmar, which can expect flooding rains and problems with mud-choked and washed out roads. The monsoon will continue to affect the area until September. One bright side: once the monsoon arrives, it greatly reduces tropical cyclone formation in the North Indian Ocean. Major tropical cyclones in the North Indian Ocean are most common in May and November, just before and just after monsoon season.

    Was the population warned?
    Many of you have expressed amazement that so many could die from a tropical cyclone in this day and age of satellites and modern communications. Why did it happen? I believe there are two main reasons: the historical lack of tropical cyclones that have hit the Irrawaddy delta, and the unwillingness of Myanmar's leaders to provide adequate warnings for fear of jeopardizing their May 10 referendum to consolidate their power.

    I've been sent an image of the warning for Cyclone Nargis as it appeared on May 2 in one of Myanmar's main newspapers, "The New Light of Myanmar". The warnings for Nargis on the day it made landfall as a major cyclone did not make the front page, but instead were buried on page 15 of t monsoon_onset.pnghe obituaries and miscellaneous section. The story did not talk about the storm surge or the cyclone's maximum sustained winds, and only mentioned that Myanmar might experience 50 mph winds in squalls. At the time the newspaper was likely preparing this article, both the Joint Typhoon Warning Center and the India Meteorology Department were calling for Nargis to be a Category 1 or Category 2 storm at landfall in Myanmar.

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  • Re: Monsoon rains approaching Myanmar

    The tropical Wave Train Continues

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    • By Nicholas
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  • RE: Monsoon rains approaching Myanmar

    is the increas in tropical waves so early in the season a precursor of things to come?

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    • By Emma
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  • RE: Monsoon rains approaching Myanmar

    numbers are one thing but these tropical waves have been well-define. There is a direct correlation between Rainfall in western Sahel and the health of tropical waves which increases the number of not just named storms, but hurricanes and major hurricane counts. So basically to answer ur question...yes.

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    • By TheWeatherMan
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  • RE: Monsoon rains approaching Myanmar

    Disasters always make headlines, even imaginary ones.
    Policy decisions should be based on solid science.
    When it comes to the environment, science has been polluted by politics.

    False prophets of doom Environmentalists would prefer that we forget these predictions

    WALTER WILLIAMS Creators Syndicate

    Now that another Earth Day has come and gone, let's look at some environmentalist predictions that they would prefer we forget.

    At the first Earth Day celebration, in 1969, environmentalist Nigel Calder warned, "The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind." C.C. Wallen of the World Meteorological Organization said, "The cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed."

    In 1968, Paul Ehrlich, Vice President Gore's hero and mentor, predicted there would be a major food shortage in the U.S. and "in the 1970s ... hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." Ehrlich said 65 million Americans would die of starvation between 1980 and 1989 , and by 1999 the U.S. population would have declined to 22.6 million. Ehrlich's predictions about England were gloomier: "If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000."

    World `likely to be ruined' by 2000

    In 1972, a report was written for the Club of Rome warning the world would run out of gold by 1981, mercury and silver by 1985, tin by 1987 and petroleum, copper, lead and natural gas by 1992. Gordon Taylor, in his 1970 work "The Doomsday Book," said Americans were using 50 percent of the world's resources and "by 2000 they [Americans] will, if permitted, be using all of them." In 1975, the Environmental Fund took out full-page ads warning, "The World as we know it will likely be ruined by the year 2000."Harvard University biologist George Wald in 1970 warned, "... civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind." That was the same year that Sen. Gaylord Nelson warned, in Look Magazine, that by 1995 "... somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct."

    It's not just latter-day doomsayers who have been wrong; doomsayers have always been wrong. In 1885, the U.S. Geological Survey announced there was "little or no chance" of oil being discovered in California, and a few years later they said the same about Kansas and Texas. In 1939, the U.S. Department of the Interior said American oil supplies would last only another 13 years. In 1949, the Secretary of the Interior said the end of U.S. oil supplies was in sight. Having learned nothing from its earlier erroneous claims, in 1974 the U.S. Geological Survey advised us that the U.S. had only a 10-year supply of natural gas. According to the American Gas Association, there's a 1,000 to 2,500 year supply.

    Here are my questions: In 1970, when environmentalists were making predictions of manmade global cooling and the threat of an ice age and millions of Americans starving to death, what kind of government policy should we have undertaken to prevent such a calamity?

    When Ehrlich predicted that England would not exist in the year 2000, what steps should the British Parliament have taken in 1970 to prevent such a dire outcome?

    In 1939, when the U.S. Department of the Interior warned that we only had oil supplies for another 13 years, what actions should President Roosevelt have taken?

    Why believe them this time?


    Finally, what makes us think that environmental alarmism is any more correct now that they have switched their tune to manmade global warming?

    A few facts: Over 95 percent of the greenhouse effect is the result of water vapor in Earth's atmosphere. Without the greenhouse effect, Earth's average temperature would be zero degrees Fahrenheit. Most climate change is a result of the orbital eccentricities of Earth and variations in the sun's output. And natural wetlands produce more greenhouse gas annually than all human sources combined.

    Walter Williams

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