Storms are generally classified as a meteorological hazard, caused by short-lived, micro- to meso-scale extreme weather and atmospheric conditions that last from minutes to days (EM-DAT).
Facts and figures
There are several different types of storms distinguished by the strength and characteristics of atmospheric disturbances:
Convective/local storm: A type of meteorological hazard generated by the heating of air and the availability of moist and unstable air masses. Convective storms range from localized thunderstorms (with heavy rain and/or hail, lightning, high winds, tornadoes) to meso-scale, multi-day events.
Sandstorm, dust storm: Strong winds carry particles of sand aloft, but generally confined to less than 50 feet (15 metres), especially common in arid and semi-arid environments. A dust storm is also characterised by strong winds but carries smaller particles of dust rather than sand over an extensive area.
Tornado: A violently rotating column of air that reaches the ground or open water (waterspout).
Lightning: A high-voltage, visible electrical discharge produced by a thunderstorm and followed by the sound of thunder.
Winter storm, blizzard: A low pressure system in winter months with significant accumulations of snow, freezing rain, sleet or ice. A blizzard is a severe snow storm with winds exceeding 35 mph (56 km/h) for three or more hours, producing reduced visibility (less than .25 mile (400 m).
Orographic storm (strong wind): Differences in air pressure resulting in the horizontal motion of air. The greater the difference in pressure, the stronger the wind. Wind moves from high pressure toward low pressure.
Extratropical storm: A type of low-pressure cyclonic system in the middle and high latitudes (also called mid-latitude cyclone) that primarily gets its energy from the horizontal temperature contrasts (fronts) in the atmosphere.
Tropical storms: A tropical cyclone originates over tropical or subtropical waters. It is characterised by a warm-core, non-frontal synoptic-scale cyclone with a low pressure centre, spiral rainbands and strong winds. Depending on their location, tropical cyclones are referred to as hurricanes (Atlantic, Northeast Pacific), typhoons (Northwest Pacific), or cyclones (South Pacific and Indian Ocean) (UNDRR, Sendai Framework).
The hurricane season in Central America normally quiets down at the end of October, but this year is one of those rare years when tropical storms and hurricanes in the region have occured beyond the typical season. With 30 events thus far, the 2020 tropical storm season in the Caribbean continues to take its toll in developing countries in Central America. Hurricane Eta entered the west coast of Nicaragua on 3 November as a Category 4 hurricane – the second-highest classification category. It triggered massive floods in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. In some regions, the magnitude of these floods was similar to those triggered by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which devastated the region and killed more than 35,000 people throughout Central America. Fortunately, the consequences of Hurricane Eta were much smaller.
UN-SPIDER has been supporting disaster response efforts to Hurricane Eta at the request of the...
A category 4 hurricane, Eta is expected to make landfall in Nicaragua on 3 November. The National Hurricane Center and Central Pacific Hurriance Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States of America is warning that it could became a category 5 hurricane before making landfall. According to NOAA, catastrophic wind damage is expected where Eta's eyewall moves onshore within the Hurricane Warning area (coast of Nicaragua from the Honduras/Nicaragua border to Sandy Bay Sirpi) in the morning of 3 November, with tropical storm conditions in the larger area beginning within the next couple of hours.
Upon the request of the Central American Coordination Center for Natural Disaster Prevention (CEPREDENAC), UN-SPIDER is supporting countries in the region with access to relevant space-based information products. In addition, it is compiling relevant...
In order to discuss and promote the use of space technologies in addressing natural hazards such as forest fires and landslides in Latin America, UN-SPIDER conducted a virtual regional expert meeting on the topic of “Space-based Solutions for Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Response in Latin America” from 22 to 24 September 2020. The meeting was jointly organized with UN-SPIDER Regional Support Offices from Argentina (National Space Activities Commission, CONAE), Brazil (Federal University of Santa Maria, UFSM), Colombia (Geographic Institute Agustin Condazzi, IGAC), and Mexico (Mexican Space Agency, AEM).
In Latin America, UN-SPIDER and its Regional Support Offices have regularly carried out regional expert meetings, training courses and other joint efforts since 2011. The last Regional Expert Meeting took place in 2017 in Mexico.
The meeting, which consisted of three two-hour-long sessions, brought together a total of over 200 disaster management...
According to the latest issue of an annual disaster statistics report, floods were the deadliest type of disasters in 2019, followed by extreme temperature, while storms affected the highest number of people. Published by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), “Natural disasters 2019 - Now is the time to not give up” draws on data recorded in the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT), which saw the addition of 396 disasters that affected a total of 95 million and caused $103 billion in economic losses around the world.
Accounting for 40 per cent of disaster events, Asia suffered the highest impact with 45 per cent of deaths and 74 per cent of total affected. India, which saw cyclone Fani cause destruction in 2019, was the country most...
In recent years, Mozambique has suffered severe floods and droughts that have impacted urban and rural communities throughout the country. In the March and April 2019, tropical cyclones Idai and Kenneth triggered major floods in Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Comoros. The Port of Beira was hard hit, as cyclone Idai destroyed transmission lines and bridges, leaving the port without access to these lifelines for several days. In contrast the powerful El Niño event of 2016 triggered major droughts that affected most of the country. Thousands of farmers lost their crops and their cattle and had to rely on humanitarian assistance to cope with the impacts of this event.
Taking into consideration the benefits of the use of satellite imagery to map the geographic extent of floods and to monitor the effects of drought on vegetation; the Federal University of Santa Maria of Brazil (UFSM), in its role as a UN-SPIDER Regional Support Office (RSO); and UN-SPIDER joined forces to...
On 1 April 1960, NASA sent the Television Infrared Observation Satellite (TIROS-1) into space. TIROS-1 was developed during the 1950s and, after years of experimental programmes and attempts, became the world’s first weather satellite. Since weather satellites were a new technology at that time, the mission also tested various design issues for spacecraft, such as instruments, data, and operational parameters, in order to improve satellite applications for Earth-bound decisions. TIROS-1 thus paved the way for further weather satellite development and research. Today, weather satellites provide highly accurate and near-real-time measurements that can efficiently monitor and forecast extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts, as well as enhance the understanding of the climate and of the Earth as a whole.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has released the JAXA Climate Rainfall Watch website to monitor extreme weather and climate over the world. The website provides hourly global measurements of precipitation as well as forecasts about heavy rainfall and drought in different temporal scales (daily, pentad, weekly, 10-days and monthly). The satellite-based global rainfall maps produce highly accurate measurements that can help better understand the changing climate, improve forecasts of extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts, minimize their damage and strengthen early warning systems.
The Climate Rainfall Watch website monitors heavy rainfall and drought in near-real-time and collects and stores data from previous months. The website calculates rainfall in percentile: heavy rain is indicated by...
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