Natural disasters like floods, tornadoes, tropical cyclones, heat and cold wave wreak havoc and cause tremendous loss of property all over the world. Most of the natural disasters are either due to weather or are triggered due to weather related processes. Extreme weather events claimed thousands of lives and caused damage on vast scale. Recent super cyclone which affected Orissa in 1999, Bangladesh cyclone of 1970 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992 are examples of some of the more damaging tropical cyclones which affected developing as well as the developed world. Heat and cold waves are also extreme events, which cause enormous losses in terms of lives lost and human discomfort and ailments arising out of them. The heat waves of 1995 and 1998 are still fresh in the mind of the Indian public. The estimated loss of human lives due to heat wave in 1998 was more than 15,000. Economic losses as a result of these disasters and in particular in association with tropical cyclones have increased enormously over the last three decades. During 1961-1991, total loss of lives from drought alone was 1,333,728 over the whole world. In terms of economic losses, there is 8-10 fold increase from the base figure of 1960. The socio-economic impact of natural disaster is complex depending upon the vulnerability of the place and mitigation strategies that are put in place. Meteorology plays a crucial role in forewarning people about the severe/extreme weather systems and a constant endeavour by the meteorological services world over has gone a long way towards minimizing the losses caused by natural disasters. The paper summarises the natural disaster statistics over south Asia and the possible prediction strategies for combating their socio-economic impacts.
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