MONTHLY DISASTER REVIEW AND OUTLOOK
MAY 2020 | DISASTER MONITORING & ANALYSIS
(DMA) UNIT, AHA CENTRE
GENERAL REVIEW OF MAY 2020
A total of 51 disaster events were recorded for the month of May 2020, which was an increase of 82.14% from April 2020. This also formed a three-fold increase in disaster occurrences compared to the previous five-year average, with the highest amount of recorded events for May 2020 being flooding events (56.86%). This significant increase in the number of disaster occurrences in the region was also reflected by an increase in the number of persons affected and displaced persons (both almost 2 times higher), as well as damaged houses (over 90,000 more reports). The observed increase in the impact of disaster events is largely attributed to Tropical Cyclone (TC) VONGFONG that affected the Philippines, causing a majority of the significant increase to damaged houses. According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), TC VONGFONG brought more than 300 millimeters of cumulative rainfall to areas in its track, with an overall strength equivalent to Category 3 in the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Notably, casualties and number of missing people were low – with six deaths and one missing person. The number of injuries, however, significantly increased compared to the average, with a majority of such injuries due to TC VONGFONG.
Geophysically, a total of 13 significant earthquakes (M≥5.0) were reported in the region for May 2020. Volcanic activity was observed for Ibu and Sangeang Api Volcanoes in Indonesia during Week 19, as well as Dukono and Semeru Volcanoes during the last two weeks of the month. Despite increased volcanic activity, these volcanoes remained on Alert Level II, while three volcanoes (Agung, Karangetang, and Sinabung) remain on Alert Level III.
The figures are an indication of the improvement in the capacities of ASEAN Member States to monitor and report disaster events, with such improvements potentially influencing the increase in reported occurrences. There is also an indication of the effect of climate change in the region, which according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) is linked to more frequent and severe extreme weather events – floods and tropical cyclones. The outcomes also highlight the importance of early warning information and systems, as disaster impacts may have been significantly greater if not for the pre-emptive evacuation, information dissemination, and advisory issuance undertaken during TC VONGFONG in the Philippines.
According to the seasonal forecast of the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) for June-July-August 2020, Southwest Monsoon conditions prevailed over the ASEAN region since the latter part of May. This is characterised by increased rain shower activities in the northern ASEAN region due to the Southwest monsoon rain band (elongated cloud patterns that bring rain). Typically drier conditions (compared to the rest of the year) can also be expected for the southern ASEAN region during the Southwest Monsoon season.
For June 2020, increased shower activities over the Mekong sub-region and subdued hotspot activities are expected. For the southern ASEAN region however, in contrast with drier Southwest Monsoon conditions, the equatorial regions should expect above-normal precipitation with isolated and generally subdued hotspot activities.
For June to August 2020, the ASMC forecasts an increased chance of above-average rainfall for most parts of the region near or on the equator. On average, above-average temperatures are also expected to persist over the ASEAN region during the next three months. In this particular season, the southern ASEAN region traditionally expects a dry season, and with it a gradual increase in hotspot activities, particularly in fire-prone areas such as Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia. Extended periods of this dry weather may lead to escalation of hotspot activities, and lead to transboundary haze pollution in the region.
Data Sources: ASEAN Disaster Information Network, ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre
Written by : Keith Landicho and Lawrence Anthony Dimailig
Disclaimer: AHA Centre’s estimation is based on data and information shared by National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs) and other relevant agencies from ASEAN Member States, international organisations and news agencies. Further information on each recorded-significant disaster, description and detail of data and information are available at: http://adinet.ahacentre.org/reports.