Cyclone Michaung Mayhem: El Nino, climate change multiplies storm's impact manifold

Cyclone Michaung made landfall in Myanmar in March 2023 as a Category 2 storm, bringing major flooding and destruction.

Over 250 people were killed and damage estimates exceed $8 billion, making it one of the deadliest and costliest storms to hit Myanmar.

The flooding displaced over 190,000 people and submerged over 550 square miles of land. Major crop losses will impact food supplies.

Climate models indicate the rainfall totals seen during Cyclone Michaung have doubled due to climate change over the past few decades.

An ongoing strong El Niño event further amplified the rainfall and flooding caused by the cyclone through shifting weather patterns.

Together, climate change and El Niño likely increased the economic losses from Cyclone Michaung 7-fold compared to a similar storm 100 years ago.

Low-lying regions like the Irrawaddy Delta in Myanmar may need to prepare for more intense cyclones and flooding in the future as climate impacts grow.

Adaptation funding and disaster planning will be crucial for protecting lives and livelihoods against multiplied storm impacts enhanced by climate change.

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