Powerful Cyclone Mocha targets millions of the world’s most vulnerable

Multiple countries are preparing for a natural disaster as Cyclone Mocha continues intensifying ahead of landfall in the Bay of Bengal this weekend.

As a meteorologist, sometimes forecasts give me a bad feeling...this is one of those times. A combination of unfortunate variables point towards a very dangerous situation for millions of the world’s most vulnerable.

Cyclone Mocha, equivalent to a Category 4 major hurricane, is barrelling towards the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox Bazar, Myanmar.

SEE ALSO: Tropical cyclones decreased last century as global warming sped up

When we think of the worst possible spot for a powerful storm like Mocha to impact, this should crack the top of the list.

Unstable homes and structures here are at an extreme risk for catastrophic flooding and landslides. Evacuations in the hundreds of thousands are already underway, here’s why.


Mocha is about to unleash a very strong punch to the Myanmar and Bangladesh coastline. The storm surge alone could easily tower more than two metres, with some models suggesting wave heights could reach up to 12 metres, or three storeys for perspective.

The region is low-laying, making for easy prey with these wave heights. The surge could push farther inland into high-populated areas, likely making this most impactful part of the storm.

Content continues below

And that's just the start for this storm.

Rainfall totals exceed 100 mm across an expansive area of land, with locally more than 300 mm pushing well inland. Wind damage to the coast is nearly certain with gusts exceeding 200 km/h, adding to the devastation.

Mocha continues to track into favourable waters, making a run at becoming a super-cyclone prior to landfall on Sunday.

This storm eerily shares some similar characteristics of the memorable Cyclone Nargis from 2008, a storm that was later named Myanmar’s most deadly natural disaster. At a similar "extremely severe" strength currently and a storm track trending more northward, forecasters worry Mocha could be a repeat.


Regardless, anything close would pose significant risk to human life, the reality Myanmar and Bangladesh both face on Sunday.