Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 15, 2008

False Weather Warning by U.S. Military to Press Myanmar

A widely repeated Associated Press report yesterday claimed that a second cyclone is threatening Myanmar.

The report was false and likely based on U.S. military propaganda. It may have led to further death in Myanmar.

Here is what AP wrote:

A second cyclone was forming Wednesday near Myanmar, less than two weeks after it was devastated by a killer storm, the UN said.

The United Nations' weather center is tracking a nascent tropical storm that is likely to become a cyclone, said Amanda Pitt, the spokeswoman of the world body's humanitarian relief program, in Bangkok, Thailand.

"This is terrible," she told reporters, adding that it could further jeopardize the people who survived Cyclone Nargis on May 3 and the efforts to distribute aid for them.

The UN's World Meteorological Center said on its Web site that "the potential for the development of a significant tropical cyclone within the next 24 hours is good."

The UN World Meterological Center (WMO) never gave a warning for a second cyclone because there was never one to expect.

The actual "warning" was given by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center of the U.S. Air Force and Navy in Hawaii to the Regional UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Bangkok. From there it went to press agencies and the media. The U.S. military center later downgraded the likelihood of a second cyclone in the Myanmar area to "poor."

Is cyclone prediction by the U.S. military so bad that it changes its judgement within hours from "good chance" to "poor chance" for another one?

The U.S. military Joint Typhoon Warning Center is not at all a part of the UN weather network. The WMO Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre for Tropical Cyclones in New Dehli is responsible for giving cyclone warnings in the area. The Severe World Weather Center website, run by the WMO, is the central place to go for weather warnings.

The central WMO office in Geneva called the warning and the report "irresponsible" as it induced panic in the already hard hit area and hindered further rescue and relief efforts.

The Frankfurter Rundschau, a reliable German daily, talked with a WMO officer in Geneva. "Maybe the U.S. wanted to increase pressure on Myanmar to let more foreign helpers into the country," quotes the paper.

At the risk of inducing panic in a desaster area? That's more than "irresponsible."

The WMO also refutes media assertions that Myanmar's government did not warn its population of the coming cyclone.

Warnings were provided to authorities as of 29 April. A press briefing was given to national media on 1 May and newspaper headlines on 2 May, the day of landfall, focused on the cyclone.

On May 1 the storm turned into the direction of Myanmar and made its landfall on May 2 after 6pm local time. The government did warn its people of the coming storm. The unforeseen unusual storm surge was the major cause of this disaster.

h/t snafu in comments

Posted by b on May 15, 2008 at 14:33 UTC | Permalink


Is there a connection to tibet's independance? The supply routes!

Posted by: Peter Hofmann | May 15 2008 19:33 utc | 1

Is there a connection to tibet's independance? The supply routes!

No - Tibet is northwest of India while Myanmar is east. But there are LOTS of hydrocarbons around Myanmar ...

Posted by: b | May 15 2008 19:39 utc | 2

Hallo b:
Look at this map:

Posted by: Peter Hofmann | May 15 2008 20:17 utc | 3

@Peter - well - if one believes that 1/3 of China is actually Tibet, that map may fit. I deem that idea lunatic ...

Posted by: b | May 15 2008 21:02 utc | 4

Hallo b,

ich schreibe das jetzt in Deutsch, weil mein Englisch nicht ausreicht, vielleicht kannst Du es übersetzen.

Das mit dem Erdöl ist natürlich richtig. Trotzdem: Die Idee einer Unabhängigkeit Tibets erschien mir immer recht suspekt. Tibet ist momentan für den Kontakt mit der Aussenwelt auf China angewiesen. Ein souveräner tibetischer Staat wäre nicht lebensfähig: er wäre immer von China abhängig. Also müssen andere Versorgungswege geschaffen werden.

Es gibt eine gemeinsame Grenze zwischen Myanmar und Tibet, nicht nur in den Wunschvorstellungen einiger Fanstasten, sondern real. Der Irrawaddy entspringt im tibetischen Himalaya. Inwieweit die Verkehrsverbindungen ausbaufähig sind, entzieht sich meiner Kenntnis. Sie wären jedoch die Grundvoraussetzung dafür, dass Tibet wirklich unabhängig sein kann. Die Kontrolle über Myanmar läge damit voll im geopolitischen Konzept der imperialistischen Mächte.


Peter Hofmann

Posted by: Peter Hofmann | May 15 2008 21:55 utc | 5

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