Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Update on Cyclone Glenda

Glenda (large white blob) nears the Western Australian coast.

Tropical Cyclone Glenda, packing potentially devastating winds, is likely to hit the sparsely populated Western Australia coast during the day Thursday local time. It comes on the heels of Cyclone Larry, which battered northern Queensland on Australia's northeast coast earlier in the month, causing significant structural and crop damage but no deaths.

Forecasters say that winds could approach 200 miles an hour and sea levels could rise up to 20 feet above high tide and flood houses in low lying areas. Voluntary evacuations have begun.

Meanwhile, inquiring visitors to Kiko's House want to know: What's the difference between a cyclone like Glenda and a hurricane like Katrina?

The difference for the most part is in name and location only, and the same terminology applies.

For example, Katrina was a Catagory Five, the top catagory, with winds of 175 mph or more. Glenda also is a Catagory Five. Both storms ran through stages from tropical depression to tropical storm to hurricane or tropical cyclone.

In the North Atlantic, hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with sharp peaks from late August through September. In the Southern Hemisphere, tropical cyclone season begins in late October and ends in May, with sharp peaks in mid-February to early March.

No matter the name, all of these storms carry extremely high winds, tornadoes, torrential rain, and storm surges that can lead to mudslides, flash floods, and lightning-sparked fires in addition to wind damage.

There is one difference: Although the effects on populated areas can be catastrophic, tropical cyclones carry away heat that builds up in the tropics, and have been known to relieve and end droughts.

No comments: