Uh oh, you are using an old web browser that we no longer support. Some of this website's features may not work correctly because of this. Learn about updating to a more modern browser here.

Skip To Content

Tropical Storms

What they are, and how we help

What is a tropical storm?

A tropical storm is a very powerful weather system characterised by strong winds and heavy rainfall that can be disruptive and dangerous. 

Tropical Storms can be life-threatening as well as cause serious hazards such as flooding, storm surge, high winds and tornadoes.

Initially high winds will cause major damage and are usually followed by heavy rains and floods and in some flat coastal areas, by tidal waves.

Although they can often be predicted several days in advance, only a few hours’ notice can be given for accurate landfall predictions for cyclones.

What is the difference between a Hurricane, Typhoon or Cyclone?

They are the same type of storm – the name changes based on where they occur.  Hurricanes originate in the Caribbean, typhoons originate from the China Sea and cyclones originate from the Indian ocean. Category 5 is the highest category for storms (they go from 1 – 5).

Storm tracks can be forecasted up to 72 hours. However, it is difficult to accurately predict where, when and at what strength a tropical cyclone will strike. Major hazards that can be produced by a tropical cyclone are storm surges (an increase in the level of the sea), large amounts of rain which can lead to (flash) floods or landslides, and wind which can lead to structural damage and loss of life. Prominent causes of death and injury are electrocutions from downed power lines, flying debris, or blunt trauma from falling trees.

Young children are especially vulnerable to the immediate effects of a severe cyclone – they can be easily swept away in floods, killed by collapsing buildings or hit with lethal flying debris. Young children may not know how to swim yet or be too weak to fight against the tide. They may not know what to do if their homes are swept away, or where to go if they become lost in the chaos.

Water, sanitation and health are major issues after cyclones and floods, and a speedy response is crucial to prevent the spread of diseases, such as cholera or malaria.



How do Save the Children help children affected by storms?

In general, when responding to a tropical storm Save the Children will:

Deploy our innovative Emergency Health Unit, staffed by specialists from around the world. The initial team, made of up doctors and health experts, will focus preventing the spread of waterborne diseases like cholera and the provision of basic health services.

Treat dirty water and run education sessions around the safe management of water to reduce the risk of vector-borne and diarrhoeal diseases and hygiene promotion.  

Distribute urgently needed items such as blankets, clothes, shelter supplies and hygiene and household kits, as often thousands of families lose everything they own – including their homes.  

Set up child and adolescent friendly spaces to provide displaced children with a safe and protected space and rehabilitate schools so children can continue their education.

Distribute cash vouchers and implement other food security programmes to help families support themselves and get their livelihoods back on track.  

Cyclone Idai 2019 (Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi)

On 15 March 2019, Cyclone Idai hit central Mozambique, leaving a trail of devastation. Winds of up to 110mph swept across the country and destroyed homes, schools, hospitals and roads – leaving a trail of devastation. Entire communities were cut off submerged under filthy, fast-moving floodwater, and some families had to climb onto the roofs of their homes to escape. Crops were destroyed, livestock were lost, and many families were left with nothing. The Government of Mozambique estimated 1.85 million people were affected, including 900,000 children.

  • We helped children to survive and recover in the aftermath of this catastrophe. Thanks to our support like yours, we:
  • Reunited children with their families
  • Trained staff and volunteers to help protect vulnerable children, especially girls, from abuse
  • Provided over 12,000 people with essentials like tents, blankets, mosquito nets, buckets to collect water, and solar lights
  • Set up 128 temporary learning spaces, which gave 28,968 children a positive and safe place to learn
  • Set up 37 child-friendly spaces, where children could go to feel safe, play, and learn
  • Screened children and pregnant and nursing women for malnutrition
  • Helped 9,500 children catch up on education at our temporary learning spaces
  • Gave families cash transfers to enable them to buy food and support the recovery of local markets
  • Distributed food supplies to more than 285,557 people, including 164,467 children