Friday, May 22, 2020

Cyclones, Heat and Climate Change

(May 22) Super Cyclone Amphan with sustained winds of 170 km/h and gusts up to 190 km/h has left more than 80 dead in India (and Bangladesh) as a trail of destruction was left behind. Cyclone Amphan intensified from a category-1 cyclone to a category-5 cyclone in a span of only 18 hours. It has caused widespread flooding, and millions are without power. Coastal villages have been devastated, and mud houses knocked down. Roads were littered with uprooted trees and lamp posts, electricity and communication lines were down and centuries-old buildings were damaged. Hundreds of villages were flooded and shelters were unable to run at full capacity in many places due to the coronavirus. Some people were too scared about the risk of infection to go there. The pandemic also will affect relief efforts and the recovery. Damage from the storm is likely to have lasting repercussions for the poor, who are already stretched to the limit by the economic impact of the virus.

Meanwhile Chennai (Madras, Tamil Nadu) is bracing for a heatwave. The sudden change in weather is attributed to westerly winds bringing dry land breeze, and super cyclonic storm Amphan, which has taken away all the moisture from the region. Cyclones are fuelled by available heat. Warming seas can make cyclones more powerful, by increasing the potential energy available to them, effectively increasing their power ceiling or speed limit. Higher sea-surface temperatures mean that cyclone wind speeds can increase. The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology reported, "High ocean temperatures are conducive to rapid intensification of cyclones.  Some of the buoys in the Bay of Bengal have registered maximum surface temperatures of 32-34 degrees Celsius (~90 degrees F) consecutively for the first two weeks of May. These are record temperatures driven by climate change".

Three Deaconess associations in India are members of DIAKONIA World Federation.
* CSI Order of Women in the Church of South India, Women's House (Karnataka)
* TELC Bethania Deaconess Home (Andhra Pradesh)
* The Methodist Church in India, Deaconesses Order

Please remember them in your prayers.

A prayer in the aftermath of severe weather
Comfort your people who have been torn by the winds,
made homeless by the waters,
injured by falling buildings and debris,
the bridges washed away, coast ravaged,
roads blocked, trees ripped up by their roots.
Comfort those who grieve,
give strength to those who are rescuing
those not yet secured,
and searching for survivors.
Guide those who care for the injured,
and shelter the evacuated,
fearful of Covid-19,
which has already taken so many.
Lead those who try to bring in
food and medicine and relief supplies
where ways are impassible.
And as people emerge, seeking what is left of their lives,
connecting with family, hunting for home -
in the midst of the rains that continue,
give, O God, hope,
tenderness in loss,
companionship in rebuilding
and the compassion of the world. Amen.
(adapted, Maren Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands, 21 May 2020)

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