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Cyclone Nargis (2008)

Cyclone Nargis was the worst natural disaster in the history of Myanmar, with over 140,000 fatalities estimated, mostly due to the storm surge, which reached 3m in many parts of the country.

Meteorological history

Nargis began as a tropical depresssion at the end of April 2008. It was first classified as a cyclone on April 28. It intensified and turned east on May 1, reaching peak winds of 215 km/hr as it approached landfall.

Nargis made landfall on May 2 while at peak strength. It proceded east across Myanmar, only gradually weakening, before finally dissipating inland on May 3.

Storm surge and aftermath

The storm surge from Nargis was over 3m in height, reaching 25km inland. It covered a large part of the country, as is shown in these before/after images from ESA's Envisat.

The surge was particularly damaging due to a combination of factors:

  • The shallow bathymetry of the area around the Irrawaddy delta.
  • The storm made landfall at high tide, moving at a low speed.
  • The terrain where it made landfall had been stripped of mangroves, which provide a natural defence.

Other factors contributing to the death toll include a large, poor population directly in its path, limited preparations, and a lack of warning.

Satellite and in-situ data

Data for nargis is available in the eSurge database .

Some satellite images are available from NASA and from ESA.

Links and resources

Online resources for Nargis:

Some additional documents available:

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