Cyclone Freddy


Cyclone Freddy, which lasted for 5 weeks and 3 days, holds the record for the longest-lasting cyclone. Initially starting as a tropical storm on 4 February 2023, it progressed into a Category 5 cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson Scale before finally settling down on 14 March 2023. It formed in the Australian region cyclone basin before moving to the South West Indian Ocean basin. The storm’s maximum sustained winds of 270 km/hour lasted for 1 minute, while those of 220 km/hour lasted for 10 minutes. Several areas, including Mauritius, Réunion, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Malawi, were affected by the cyclone, with Malawi being the most severely impacted, followed by Mozambique. The total number of fatalities was 696, with 556 missing, 1,712,987 affected, and 1,612 injured. The areas suffered from strong winds, flooding, and landslides, leading to the destruction of crops, homes, schools, and health centers. Additionally, the storm struck Mozambique amid a cholera outbreak.


Tropical Cyclone

The tropics are the region that lies between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Due to the direct overhead position of the sun at the equator, this area experiences higher temperatures than the temperate regions, with a mean temperature above 18°C and the absence of a cold season. Consequently, the tropics are prone to tropical storms that form over warm ocean waters where the heat and moisture cause the air to rise and form clouds. This upward movement of air leads to the creation of a self-sustaining system of strong winds and heavy rain, which characterizes cyclones. Cyclones are a type of storm that forms over warm ocean waters with temperatures of at least 26.5°C (80°F) and are identified by strong winds, heavy rain, and storm surges that can result in significant damage to coastal areas. The Earth’s rotation causes the air to rotate due to the Coriolis effect, resulting in counterclockwise rotation in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise rotation in the Southern Hemisphere. As the storm intensifies, it may form a calm center called the eye, surrounded by an eyewall that consists of intense thunderstorms with the strongest winds and heaviest rainfall, making it the most dangerous part of the storm.


In the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, hurricanes are tropical storms that form, whereas in the Indian Ocean and the southwestern Pacific Ocean, they are called cyclones. Typhoons, on the other hand, are tropical storms that form in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. Although hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons have similar wind speeds, there are slight differences in their definitions. In the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, a tropical storm is classified as a hurricane if it has sustained winds of at least 74 mph (119 km/h). Meanwhile, in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, a tropical storm is referred to as a typhoon if it has sustained winds of at least 74 mph (119 km/h). In the Indian Ocean and the southwestern Pacific Ocean, a tropical storm is known as a cyclone if it has sustained winds of at least 39 mph (62 km/h). The rotation direction of these storms is also different. Hurricanes rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Cyclones, however, rotate counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. Typhoons rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. Furthermore, hurricanes are classified into five categories according to the Saffir-Simpson scale.


Hospital Disaster Management

It is necessary to ensure that hospitals in areas where storms occur are constructed to withstand high winds and flooding and use storm shutters to protect exterior openings. It’s important to have generators that are adequately fueled and have alternate power sources, as well as an alternate communication system. An evacuation plan and have damage control equipment such as plywood needs to be made ready beforehand. The hospital needs to alert employees to bring in personal items and stock up on medical equipment and medicines. In case of sterilization failure, consider disposable equipment such as suture sets, and obtain alternative means of cleaning and disposing of liquid and solid waste. Pregnant women who are at least 36 weeks pregnant should report to the hospital before the storm’s arrival. During the storm, it’s essential to focus on damage control of the medical facility. Common causes of death during a storm include drowning, being trapped in a landslide, electrocution, and carbon monoxide poisoning from generators or charcoal. After the disaster, hospitals may see patients with chronic medical conditions, water-borne illnesses, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.

Ashis Shrestha