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WMO Assessment of Weather and Climate Mortality Extremes: Lightning, Tropical Cyclones, Tornadoes, and Hail

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  • 1 School of Geographical Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
  • | 2 Climate Services, Météo-France, Paris, France
  • | 3 The Weather Company, IBM, Oakland, California
  • | 4 African Centres for Lightning and Electromagnetics Network, Kampala, Uganda
  • | 5 National Climate Centre, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China
  • | 6 Western Australian School of Mines, Department of Spatial Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  • | 7 National Weather Service, NOAA, Dodge City, Kansas
  • | 8 Vaisala, Inc., Tucson, Arizona
  • | 9 Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami, Miami, Florida
  • | 10 Climate Service, South African Weather Service, and Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • | 11 Hong Kong Observatory, Hong Kong, China
  • | 12 Centro Internacional para la Investigación del Fenómeno del Niño, Guayaquil, Ecuador
  • | 13 India Meteorological Department, New Delhi, India
  • | 14 World Meteorological Organization Commission for Climatology, Asheville, North Carolina
  • | 15 Department of Geography, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
  • | 16 Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • | 17 National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Limited, Wellington, New Zealand
  • | 18 Department of Astronomy and Meteorology, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt
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Abstract

A World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission for Climatology international panel was convened to examine and assess the available evidence associated with five weather-related mortality extremes: 1) lightning (indirect), 2) lightning (direct), 3) tropical cyclones, 4) tornadoes, and 5) hail. After recommending for acceptance of only events after 1873 (the formation of the predecessor of the WMO), the committee evaluated and accepted the following mortality extremes: 1) “highest mortality (indirect strike) associated with lightning” as the 469 people killed in a lightning-caused oil tank fire in Dronka, Egypt, on 2 November 1994; 2) “highest mortality directly associated with a single lightning flash” as the lightning flash that killed 21 people in a hut in Manica Tribal Trust Lands, Zimbabwe (at time of incident, eastern Rhodesia), on 23 December 1975; 3) “highest mortality associated with a tropical cyclone” as the Bangladesh (at time of incident, East Pakistan) cyclone of 12–13 November 1970 with an estimated death toll of 300 000 people; 4) “highest mortality associated with a tornado” as the 26 April 1989 tornado that destroyed the Manikganj district, Bangladesh, with an estimated death toll of 1300 individuals; and 5) “highest mortality associated with a hailstorm” as the storm occurring near Moradabad, India, on 30 April 1888 that killed 246 people. These mortality extremes serve to further atmospheric science by giving baseline mortality values for comparison to future weather-related catastrophes and also allow for adjudication of new meteorological information as it becomes available.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: R. Cerveny, cerveny@asu.edu

Abstract

A World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission for Climatology international panel was convened to examine and assess the available evidence associated with five weather-related mortality extremes: 1) lightning (indirect), 2) lightning (direct), 3) tropical cyclones, 4) tornadoes, and 5) hail. After recommending for acceptance of only events after 1873 (the formation of the predecessor of the WMO), the committee evaluated and accepted the following mortality extremes: 1) “highest mortality (indirect strike) associated with lightning” as the 469 people killed in a lightning-caused oil tank fire in Dronka, Egypt, on 2 November 1994; 2) “highest mortality directly associated with a single lightning flash” as the lightning flash that killed 21 people in a hut in Manica Tribal Trust Lands, Zimbabwe (at time of incident, eastern Rhodesia), on 23 December 1975; 3) “highest mortality associated with a tropical cyclone” as the Bangladesh (at time of incident, East Pakistan) cyclone of 12–13 November 1970 with an estimated death toll of 300 000 people; 4) “highest mortality associated with a tornado” as the 26 April 1989 tornado that destroyed the Manikganj district, Bangladesh, with an estimated death toll of 1300 individuals; and 5) “highest mortality associated with a hailstorm” as the storm occurring near Moradabad, India, on 30 April 1888 that killed 246 people. These mortality extremes serve to further atmospheric science by giving baseline mortality values for comparison to future weather-related catastrophes and also allow for adjudication of new meteorological information as it becomes available.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: R. Cerveny, cerveny@asu.edu
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