Extreme Weather: An Ever-Increasing Problem

Table of Content

Every year Billions of people lose their property, their homes and, even their lives to natural weather events across the globe. In extreme cases, whole towns are paralyzed by the unstop-able powers of these weather fueled disasters and the extensive recovery processes can leave these towns devastated for years to come. Although these forces are unstoppable at the human level, we try our best to minimize the loss of property but most importantly the loss of life. Humans have developed many instruments to better understand these events and put in place warning systems to help move people out of harm’s way, but we still lose thousands of people every year. Despite us having these warning there is still a lot we don’t know and often time these events take us by surprise. For example, the Camp Fire in Paradise California was the deadliest fire in the US this century but for what reason. After the fire had started, wind patterns caused the fire spread wildly and quickly out of control before people could escape becoming a devastating even that lost more people than we could have predicted. Knowing that the weather is unpredictable to some degree, it’s interesting to see how we have approached these disasters is an effort to spare more human life.

The aforementioned Camp Fire is a great example to start with because of its specific conditions. Even with a fire history in the area and more adequate warning systems, many lives were still lost. The unfortunate side of the story is there wasn’t much we could have done to help prevent it from happening either. By the time the fire was reported it was already spreading faster than anyone could have though with winds blowing at 70mph, so people were forced to abandon all their belongings and attempt to escape which didn’t work out for some people. A big problem was people living further in forested regions where they would have to take slower, less direct routes to safety while in a region favorable to fire. People were found burned up inside their vehicles and some even were forced to abandon their vehicles in an attempt to out run the fire in wooded regions. Not only this but the closest town affected was a retirement town with elderly citizens physically unable to escape quick enough. With recovery well underway and a long time to come this is opportunity to assess how to better rebuild these communities knowing how fire prone these areas are. This raises questions if we should rebuild in the same areas as we have multiple times before or if we should look into establishing more effective warning systems. One solution may be establishing mandatory community-based fire drills or procedures to help establish specific and effective escape routes. Another would be to consider building fire retardant shelters or bunkers and possibly the simplest solution is to be prepared for the worst at all times and expect disaster to strike.

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The Camp Fire was a very rare occasion with specific conditions playing into the severity of the fire but there is other example of how successful preparations have been elsewhere in the world. With Super Typhoon Mangkhut, a Category 5 equivalent Typhoon, only 153 perished across multiple countries. This is remarkable considering the that 5 years prior, Typhoon Hiayan passed through the same area claiming 6,300 lives on its path, 41 times more lives than Mangkhut. Now Hiayan might have been a stronger hurricane but the Philippians are a water locked chain of islands without many places to flee and it doesn’t help that this relatively small island hosts 106 million citizens. This opens up a lot of opportunity for unavoidable disaster to strike so one of the only options is preparedness. The people of the Philippians knew about their history with catastrophic weather events so in response to the formation of Mangkhut, Philippian officials recalled 50,000 fishing boats in the ocean and farmers harvested crops early to spare food supplies. Also, locals began evacuation processes well before Magkhut was even close to making landfall and relief supplies were prepared for distribution for over 4,000 families. The history of disaster helped people become more aware of future disasters in order to respond quicker and more efferently.

The Weather of today will continue to devastate relentlessly but we can always get better at responding to them. The more disasters that strike the more we can learn from them and the more prepared we can be for the future. As time goes on our infrastructure will be destroyed only to be built back stronger and with better technology to further spare human life. Humans can’t predict the future, but we can learn from the past.

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Extreme Weather: An Ever-Increasing Problem. (2022, Feb 09). Retrieved from


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