When Cyclone Pam ripped across the tiny South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, there were fears its monstrous winds could kill thousands. But as aid workers finally reached the archipelago’s hard-hit outer islands, it appeared that residents’ careful planning had spared the lives of most. (Associated Press)
Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit, including a link to today’s MapMaker Interactive map.
Use the new latitude/longitude feature on our MapMaker Interactive to plot the path of Tropical Cyclone Pam. Here’s a how-to.
- Use the new latitude/longitude feature on our MapMaker Interactive to plot the path of Tropical Cyclone Pam. Here are the coordinates of where the storm ended each day. (Thank you to the good folks at Weather Underground.)
- March 9: -8.5°, 170°
- March 10: -11.1°, 170°
- March 11: -11.9°, 170°
- March 12: -15°, 169.6°
- March 13: -18°, 169°
- March 14: -26.9°, 172.7°
- March 15: -33.3°, 178.3°
Your map might look something like this! We used the “satellite” base map, simply because our cyclone markers showed up nicely against the dark blue Pacific. We also provided the wind speed for each point, and a marker for Tanna, the island hardest hit by Tropical Cyclone Pam.
- The AP article reports with relief that the people of Vanuatu (called ni-Vanuatu) were very well-prepared for Tropical Cyclone Pam. How did they prepare?
- Why do you think ni-Vanuatu were so well-prepared for Tropical Cyclone Pam?
- Cyclones and tropical storms are common during Vanuatu’s late summer-early autumn. “Here in the Pacific, we know that disasters happen every year at this time,” said Hanna Butler, an aid worker with the Red Cross in Vanuatu.
- Ni-Vanuatu are familiar with other extreme natural events. The island nation sits on part of the “Ring of Fire,” where tectonic activity results in frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Take a look at the layers on the second slide in today’s MapMaker Interactive map to get an idea of the kind of frequency with which earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in and around Vanuatu. (For this map, we used the “Nat Geo” base map, which lets us see the names of countries impacted by these extreme natural events.)
- Although ni-Vanuatu were well-prepared for the cyclone, relief agencies are still concerned about the long-term effects of the storm. What are some long-term implications?
- Homelessness. Tanna, the island hardest-hit by Tropical Cyclone Pam, had about 80% of its homes and other buildings destroyed or partly destroyed.
- Disease. According to the AP, “The island’s hospital was operating with a diesel generator, but there was only enough fuel to last for two weeks, and some of the hospital’s water supply was unusable due to contamination.” Relief workers are vaccinating children, providing Vitamin A, and handing out bed nets to help stave off mosquito-borne malaria, according to UNICEF.
- Hunger and thirst. Many ni-Vanuatu are subsistence farmers, and the storm destroyed valuable cropland and fruit trees.
- Rescue. Vanuatu is archipelago of 83 low-lying islands, many isolated and without airports. Communication and access to the outer islands may be difficult.
Nat Geo: Preparing for Extreme Natural Events
Nat Geo: Track Tropical Cyclone Pam map
Nat Geo: Vanuatu 1-page map