The Hurricane-Flood-Landslide Continuum

Negri, A; Burkardt, N.; Golden, J.H.; Halverson, J.B.; Huffman, G.J.; Larsen, M.C.; Mcginley,
J.A.; Updike, R.G.; Verdin, J.P; Wieczorek, J.F. The Hurricane-Flood-Landslide Continuum,
Bulletin of American Meteorological Society 2004 (doi:10.1175/BAMS-86-9-1241).

The global losses of life and property from the floods, landslides, and debris flows caused by tropical storms are staggering. One key to reducing these losses, both in the United States and internationally, is to improve forecasts of pending events in a time frame of several hours to days before the event. In some instances, the loss of life and property is the direct result of high winds and heavy rains. However, 82% of tropical cyclone deaths are due to fl ooding (Fig. 1), most of which occur well inland. For example, in 1998, Hurricane Mitch deluged parts of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua with rain, triggering intense fl oods and thousands of landslides that killed 11,000 people. In northwestern Nicaragua, at least 2000 people from a single village were buried alive by a massive lahar (debris fl ow). Although the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released warnings for dangerously heavy rain fall during Mitch, much of this information either never reached local munici pal offi cials in Central America, was misunderstood, or was not acted upon. In addition, the countries impacted most by the storm have only modest national weather ser vices. We believe that if people had been better informed and prepared, substantially fewer would have died.
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