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One dead as Cyclone Giovanna rips through Madagascar
by Staff Writers
Antananarivo (AFP) Feb 14, 2012

Cyclone Giovanna hit Madagascar on Tuesday, pounding the Indian Ocean island with strong winds and heavy rain and killing at least one person, according to officials.

The violent storm tore roofs off houses, damaged buildings and trees, and caused power cuts in the capital, Antananarivo.

"For the moment, we just have one death confirmed, in Brickaville," 220 kilometres (135 miles) east of Antananarivo, a disaster management official told AFP, although details on damage and casualties were still being gathered.

A local website said the death was caused by a coconut tree that fell on a house, killing the father of the family that lived there.

The authorities had issued a weather alert Monday, warning that the intense tropical cyclone was headed toward the east coast between the towns of Tamatave and Brickaville around 2:00 am (2300 GMT) and would reach Antananarivo about seven hours later.

Violent winds began lashing the capital around 1:00 am, and heavy rains fell until 7:00 am.

As the storm approached, officials had warned Antananarivo residents to stay home. The city was just beginning to show signs of life again Tuesday afternoon after slowing to a halt in the morning.

Air Madagascar's website said the airline had cancelled all flights leaving from Antananarivo for the day, though aviation authorities said the airport was still open.

Giovanna had already forced Port Louis airport in Mauritius to close Saturday.

Cyclone season in Madagascar runs from November to April.

In February 2011, Cyclone Bingiza hit the east coast and crossed the north of the country before turning and crossing the south, killing at least 34 people and affecting some 216,000.

In 2010, tropical storm Hubert killed at least 83 and affected some 187,000.

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New York's 'once-a-century' storms to become common: study
Paris (AFP) Feb 14, 2012 - Massive storm surges that statistically threaten New York City once a century could occur at intervals from three to 20 years by 2100, according to estimates by US scientists published Tuesday.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Princeton University built a computer model that simulated tens of thousands of storms under different scenarios for global warming.

In the model, intense storms become more frequent by the period from 2081 to 2100, a finding that backs previous research, they found.

Warmer temperatures drive up sea levels through thermal expansion and also provide the raw fuel for hurricanes.

Today a "100-year" land-falling storm causes a flood surge of about two metres (more than six feet) in New York. By 2100, this could occur at intervals of just three to 20 years, according to the paper.

An apocalyptic flood, bringing a surge of three metres (10 feet), that today has a risk of occurring once every five centuries would occur statistically every 25 to 240 years.

Both kinds of events would easily top Manhattan's present sea walls, which stand 1.5 metres (nearly five feet), the investigators noted.

The highest surge flood recorded in New York was in 1821 and measured 3.2 metres (10.4 feet), according to the probe, published in the journal Nature Climate Change.


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Tropical Cyclones to Cause Greater Damage
New Haven CT (SPX) Feb 06, 2012
Tropical cyclones will cause $109 billion in damages by 2100, according to Yale and MIT researchers in a paper published in Nature Climate Change. That figure represents an increased vulnerability from population and especially economic growth, as well as the effects of climate change. Greater vulnerability to cyclones is expected to increase global tropical damage to $56 billion by 2100-d ... read more

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