Top Five Natural Disasters of 2011 in the Western Pacific & Australia

2011 Was a very active year in the Western Pacific, Eastern Asia and Australia. Natural Disasters ranging from Massive Tsunamis to 100 Year floods occurred across the entire region with some sort of disaster occurring in about every country. Therefore 2011 will go down as one of the most destructive years in recent memory. The five events below are just our opinion here at Western Pacific Weather for top 5 most notable events  for the year. This is based on their destructiveness, deadliness and several other factors. Please leave your comments below and if there are any major stories that you would like to note as always you are welcomed to comment.

1)      2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami

Not  a Meteorological Event but by far the number one most memorable natural event of 2011.  The Magnitude 9.0 Mega Thrust Earthquake occurred at 14:46 JST (05:46 UTC) on Friday, 11 March 2011 just off the North East Coast of Honshu Japan. The earthquake has been rated as one of the Top 5 most powerful earthquakes in the world and the most powerful in Japan during the start of Modern Record Keeping.

Following the Earthquake was an even more destructive event a 40+ meter Tsunami crushing the Tohoku Region. Both of these events combined caused over 15,500 Deaths, 5,000 injuries and an estimated 30+ Billion Dollars in Damages.

Furthermore the tsunami caused a level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant complex, and the associated evacuation zones affecting hundreds of thousands of residents.  All of these events even caused personal effects to myself. I was in Singapore during the earthquake but my Wife and Son were in Japan and were evacuated to the U.S.A to avoid the risk of a complete Nuclear Meltdown and also to escape the nearly continuous threat of After Shocks in the Region.  (For more information on my story and the story of my family during this event please check this link)

Our Partners at continue to put new information on this quake and have mountains of archived data, please check the site if you wish to research more in to it.

Videographer James Reynolds visited the Tohoku Region in the months following the Tsunami. The video he produced below is just a glimpse in to the destruction caused by the Tsunami.

2)    Tropical Storm Washi / Sendong

This storm was not the most powerful of the year by any means, but was the most deadliest meteorological event of the year.  This was due to a combination of reasons, the main being being the climotolgical nature of the region it struck. The Philippines as a whole is one of the most effected countries in the World pertaining to Tropical Systems. But that is mainly concentrated in

from Visayas to Northern Luzon. Often storms do not have enough coriolos force to gain enough cyclonic circulation As far South as Mindanao where Washi made landfall. This fact led to poor locations of many communities in the region being located in low lying flood plains that may have not been filled in several decades.

Satellite imagery just prior to landfall indicated a strong and intense line of a continous rain band moving on shore with the
tropical System, this led to nearly 10 hours of continuous rainfall dropping over 200mm of rainfall in many locations. This combined with river runoff caused wide spread flash flooding across the Northern Portions of Mindanao leading to over 1,200 deaths. The image to the right displays where the heaviest rainfall was located during the course of this storm.

Read our Lessons Learned from Wahi/Sendong for more information on how and why this storm was so deadly.

3) Thailand Floods

The SouthWest Monsoon Season during 2011 in Thailand was one of the worst in recorded history. Unlike the other events in the Top Five list that occurred during a few day period this one was due to a continuous rainfall over the course of several months.   This led to nearly 13 million people effected with billions of dollars in damage to Northern Thailand ranging from Crops to overseas shipping making it the second costliest disaster in the World during 2011 behind the Tohoku Earthquake.

The rains in Thailand began to effect the area in March, but in July Tropical Storm Nock-Ten Made landfall over Vietnam and continued to push West towards Cambodia and then Thailand, this tipped the figurative and literal tipping bucket over causing flash floods across much of Northern Thailand.

By late September the flood waters approached the Capital City of Bangkok. The one fortunate situation with floods was in fact how persistent they were, thus providing time for levees and measures to be put in place to at least spare the downtown district of the city. A few instances came close to putting maximum pressure on the levees yet  as the North East Monsoon Set in the rains began to settle reducing the stress on the city.

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In the end millions were effected yet 790 people lost there lives officially, this does not take in account though the deaths possibly caused by disease  or even stress directly related to the floods.  This event defiantly deserves its place to be ranked within the Top 5 Weather Events of 2011.

The Video Below is our update on the Floods followed by a Slide Show in October.

For Further Information check in depth WIKI page on this event.

4) Typhoon Talas

For the Number four Natural Event of 2011 we look back at Japan. As the country continued to recover from the devastating events in March Typhoon Season still brewed in the Western Pacific.  In late August this became evident as a cluster of storms formed just west of Guam. Over the course of about 10 days the storm slowly tracked North West towards the Japanese coast making landfall on September 3rd over  Kochi Prefecture.

The terrain in this part of Japan combined with the movement of the storm caused persistent rains to be squeezed like a sponge along the East Coast of the Country. The end result was over 2,000mm (2M) of rainfall in certain areas on the Kii Penninsula over a 2 day period. The image to the right shows where the heaviest rainfall occurred.

Furthermore the heavy rains Talas triggered flash floods that loosened the soil causing landslides in the area. The imagery below shows whole hill sides that gave way during the storm in some places crashing in to whole towns and small cities.

In the end the storm caused 73 deaths in Japan with damages estimated at over 600 million USD. Talas was not the strongest storm of the years with a central pressure of only 970mb. But it does have a place on the top five events due to the massive and record breaking amount of rainfall it produced.

Check this link for storm footage during Typhoon Talas.

5) Cyclone Yasi

To round out our top Five we look at one of the strongest Cyclones to hit Australia in recent history. In Late January to Early February the storm developed North of New Caledonia and tracked West through the Coral Sea. Here at Western Pacific Weather we tracked this system closely during the course of its tenure forecasting its landfall location by a few hundred miles nearly a week prior to landfall. This resulted in the most viewed video from Western Pacific Weather and can be viewed at the bottom of the page.

As the storm continued to track West it deepened and broadened its intensity. The size of the storm alone was staggering extending several thousand kilometers across and deepening to a minimum pressure of 929mb as it moved through the Coral Sea.  On February 2nd the storm passed directly over Willis Island knocking out the Radar on the island as it moved over, it continued to push West making landfall South of Cairns near Innisfail at ~1AM on the 3rd of February.

Fortunately the storms consistent forecast and warnings issued well in advance of the storm led to successful evacuations from coastal areas of the storm leading to only one death indirectly related to the storm occurring to a man who was killed by fumes from a generator he was running inside a closed room after the storm knocked out electricity.

The storm though caused wide spread devastation to the area and on the heels of some of the worst flooding in recent memory in Queensland it became one of the most notable events in 2011.

The video below was produced by Chun Fu Wu and is a good recap of the storm from organization to dissipation.

Below is the video mentioned above on the Yasi Forecast track.

One Response to “Top Five Natural Disasters of 2011 in the Western Pacific & Australia”

  1. Thanks you so much for posting my Cyclone Yasi video for the second time!
    How could i ever thank you???
    This post is amazing!!◕‿◕
    In fact in just awaken me!-i forgot about the tsunami and floods!!◕‿◕

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