More than 150 people are now dead, Al Jazeera reports, with thousands homeless and more than 10,000 evacuated as Category 2 Tropical Cyclone Seroja dumped torrential rain on Indonesia and East Timor (also known as Timor-Leste) Tuesday. Indonesian weather agency head Dwikorita Karnawati told reporters climate change could be to blame for the appearance of otherwise rare tropical cyclones making landfall in Indonesia. “Seroja is the first time we’re seeing tremendous impact because it hit the land. It’s not common,” she told a news conference.
Landslides and flash flooding uprooted trees and swept buildings down mountainsides on Lembata island. The landslides forced residents to flee “with just wet clothes on their backs and nothing else,” said the area’s Deputy Mayor Thomas Ola Longaday. Climate change increases the atmosphere’s capacity to hold moisture, making cyclones and extreme precipitation worse. Deforestation also increases communities’ vulnerability to landslides. The effects of Tropical Cyclone Seroja are expected to continue through the week. (Al Jazeera, Reuters, AFP, NPR, BBC, AP; Climate Signals background: Extreme precipitation; Cyclonic storms)